Although there is no one cause of bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, family history of the disorder increases the risk, says WebMD. Bipolar disorder usually starts between the ages of 15 and 24, with very few new cases diagnosed in children or those over 65.
Depression associated with bipolar disorder includes mania, extreme high moments, hypomania and the absence of psychosis, according to WebMD. The time period between bouts of depression and the severity of the episodes determine whether the patient can function in society. Bipolar disorder with mood changes occurring discretely a few times a year is called rapid cycling. Moment-to-moment mood changes are more severe and hinder social function.
Patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder I, the more severe form of the disorder, are 90 percent likely to have at least one or more psychiatric hospitalizations and experience mania, notes WebMD. The milder form is bipolar II disorder and is characterized by the absence of psychosis, hallucinations or delusions, and those afflicted experience hypomania.
Treatment for bipolar disorder is medication, such as mood stabilizers and antidepressants, states WebMD. Mood stabilizers such as lithium, benzodiazepine, antipsychotics and anticonvulsants are used in conjunction with antidepressants at times, but antidepressants alone are sometimes ineffective in fighting depression with bipolar disorder.