When people hear about bipolar disorder, they typically think of the symptoms of bipolar 1; primarily the extremes of mania.  Bipolar 1 is a disorder that is characterized by mania and depression, for this reason the name of this condition used to be manic depressive disorder.  The diagnostic criteria can be found here.  In summary, to be diagnosed an individual will:

  • Have at least one manic or mixed episode
  • Distinct period of elevated, irritated, and/or expansive mood lasting at least one week
  • Marked impairment not otherwise explained (substance abuse or other diagnosis)

There have been many books written by people with bipolar 1.  Some of them include: Lost Marbles by Natasha Tracy, An Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison, and Madness by Marya Hornbacher.  Author Benz Deyo describes his experience with bipolar 1 in the video from WebMD below.

Deyo describes the amazing difference that taking his medication has made for him.  Though he had a manic episode while being med compliant, he acknowledges that the medication is still vital.  In addition he emphasizes finding an outlet, for him it is writing.

Treatment for bipolar 1 almost always includes medication, typically a mood stabilizer, atypical antipsychotic, and/or an antidepressant.  Psychotherapy is also often beneficial in the treatment of bipolar 1. In addition, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be useful in some cases.

No matter what the treatment, it is important that the patient remain compliant by taking medications, attending therapy sessions, etc.  It can also be helpful to have a support system both of family/friends, and people who also live with a mental illness.