Bipolar disorder is often considered a hereditary disease. According to the National Mental Health Association (2001) a specific genetic link to bipolar disorder has not been found. Studies show that 80 to 90 percent of those who suffer from bipolar disorder have relatives with some form of depression (NIMH, 2001). Bipolar disorder is a mental illness involving one or more episodes of serious mania and depression which causes individuals to feel an euphoric type high or feeling really low. Over 2. 5 million people in America have bipolar disorder.

This disorder usually occurs during adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life. Although, young children can be diagnosed with manic depression as well. Bipolar disorder also shows symptoms by being very irritable and having destructive tantrums throughout the day. Sommers (2000), wrote that teenage guys and girls are equally likely to experience manic depression, but it is often more apparent in girls (p.

15). This is because guys do not like admitting to being depressed because it makes them look weak and have no control, so they tend to hold back their feelings which will only make their life more difficult. In contrast girls are more prone to talk about their feelings than guys are. Diagnosing individuals with bipolar disorder is very difficult due to the fact that many people deny that anything is wrong because he or she likes the feeling of being in high mood. Another reason diagnosing is difficult is because the problem may be related to some other type of illness or accompanied with a coexisting problem like substance abuse, poor performance in schoolwork and jobs. Bipolar disorder (a.

k. a. Manic Depressive illness) is a disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function (National Institute of Mental Health [NIMH], 2001). This disorder consist of severe episodes of highs and lows that individuals go through. These highs and lows have a much greater impact on an individuals life than the normal highs and lows people go through everyday.

These episodes can lead to unwanted behaviors, depression, anxiety and can lead to suicide if not treated. There are four categories in which bipolar disorder is classified according to symptoms severity. According to DSM-IV, "there are Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, cyclothymia disorder, and bipolar disorder not otherwise specified" (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1994). In order to diagnose an individual with a certain bipolar disorder, an individual would have to have signs and symptoms that are listed in the criteria of mania, depressive, mixed, or hypomania c episodes. According to the DSM-IV criteria, "Mania episodes " are distinctive periods of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood, lasting at least one week (or any duration if hospitalization is necessary) (Keck & McElroy, 2002). During the period of mood disturbance, three or more of the following symptoms have persisted (fur if the mood is only irritable) and have been present to a significant degree: inflated self-esteem, racing thoughts, more talkative, easily distracted, increase in goal-directed activity, and excessive involvement in activities that have high potential for painful consequences." Manic episode can lead to troubled relationships, poor school / job performance, harm of self and others and problems with an individuals social life.

The second type of episode is called Major Depressive Episode, which symptoms must have been present five or more times during a two week period and show a change of usability to function as previously. Symptoms consist of being depressed nearly everyday, decrease in interest or activities, dramatic weight loss, insomnia or, agitation, loss of energy, feeling guilty, worthlessness, trouble concentrating, suicide ideation. Another type of episode is called mixed episodes which is the combination of mania episodes and depressive episodes that occur almost everyday for at least one week. The last type of episode is called Hypomaniac episode. Hypomaniac episode are classified with signs and symptoms occurring for at least four days that an individual experience an elevated or irritable mood.

The criteria consist of an individual having inflated self-esteem, little need for sleep, excessive talking, and having flight of ideas. Three or more of these symptoms would have to occur persistently to be classified as a Hypomaniac Episode. "This type of episode is associated with an unequivocal change in functioning that is uncharacteristic of the person when not symptomatic" (Keck & McElroy, 2002). Although, there is no cure for bipolar disorder there are several ways to treat this disorder. The most common and effective way is through medications. There are several different types of medications on the market today used for treating bipolar patients but the oldest one that has shown a significant decrease of episodes is known as lithium.

Lithium is a natural and standard mood stabilizer that has been extremely beneficial in treating bipolar patients. Also, many BD patients will also be prescribed to some type of antidepressants like, Zoloft, Prozac, and Paxil. Sleeping aids are sometimes prescribed for short term therapy for patients dealing with insomnia. Most common prescribed sleeping aids are, . A combination of these medication has shown to be effective, but reported patients having hard-take side effects. Taking a combination of anti-psychotics, sleeping aids, thyroid supplements, and is sometimes called med cocktails.

Patients taking medications are also advised to seek professional help from psychiatrist, psychologist, psychotherapist, or some type of mental health professional. This is an essential part of treating people with bipolar disorder who want to keep this disease in control and not it controlling ones life.