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Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a severe mood disturbance. A person can swing from feeling very high, which is called manic or hypomanic, to very low, which may mean they become depressed. They may have periods where they lose contact with reality. The common symptoms of mania, and the less severe hypomania, include reduced need for sleep, irritability, experiencing a sharp increase in energy, talking very quickly, having grand plans and beliefs and a lack of inhibitions. When depressed a person feels so persistently low it makes their ability to function at home, work or school difficult or impossible. They may be at risk of suicide. A person with bipolar disorder will often have long periods of complete recovery and with effective treatment will live a full and meaningful life. The cause of the illness is not known but does have a tendency to run in families. Treatment includes medication and counselling and perhaps hospitalisation at its most severe.

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