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How can I know if someone I care about has bipolar disorder?

Keith Star
Psychology
Bipolar disorder is common with those who have a sibling or parent with the illness and in families having several generations affected with mood disorders. The estimated age for the onset of bipolar disorder is during the early twenties.
Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
The only way to be certain someone you know has bipolar disorder is if he or she has been diagnosed with the condition by a qualified doctor. However, there are clear symptoms of the two extremes of bipolar disorder -- mania and depression -- that may lead you to suspect that someone has the condition. A person experiencing mania, with classic symptoms, might be talking quickly and jumping from one idea to another; restless; easily distracted; have little interest in sleep; and be overconfident, impulsive, or exhibit reckless behavior. This manic behavior may alternate with periods of depression, during which a person will seem sad and hopeless, and lose interest in favorite activities. Some people experience a condition called mixed bipolar disorder. Symptoms may include agitation, irritability, and behaviors that seem to combine mania and depression, such as seeming sad, but having racing thoughts. Be honest with someone you suspect has bipolar disorder. Suggest he or she see a doctor. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.