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The course of Bipolar Disorder

Abstract: Bipolar Disorder: Episodes of mania and depression, interspersed with normal periods.

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The course of Bipolar Disorder

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Written by: , lecturer of Psychiatry in the University of Ioannina Medical School, Greece. Eva Gerasi, postgraduate student in the Department of Psychiatry, University Hospital of Ioannina, Greece.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 23 Mar 2013.

What is the course of bipolar disorder? Do people with bipolar disorder have symptoms throughout their lives?

Answer:

Episodes of mania and depression typically recur across the life span. Between episodes, most people with bipolar disorder are free of symptoms, but as many as one-third have some residual symptoms. A small percentage experience chronic unremitting symptoms despite treatment.

People with bipolar disorder can lead healthy and productive lives if the illness is effectively treated. Without treatment, however, the natural course of bipolar disorder tends to worsen. Over time a person may suffer more frequent (more rapid-cycling) and more severe manic and depressive episodes than those experienced when the illness first appeared. But in most cases, proper treatment can help reduce the frequency and severity of episodes and can help people with bipolar disorder maintain good quality of life.

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