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Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

More than 2 million American adults, or about 1 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year, have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or early adulthood. However some people have their first symptoms during childhood, and some develop them late in life. It is often not recognized as an illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a persons life.

"Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors, destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels psychological in the experience of it; an illness that is unique in conferring advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unbearable suffering and, not infrequently, suicide.

I am fortunate that I have not died from my illness, fortunate in having received the best medical care available, and fortunate in have the friends, colleagues, and family that I do."

--Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., An Unquiet Mind, 1995, p. 6.
(Reprinted with permission from Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.)


It is in the spirit of Dr Jamison's statement above that I have put together North Sea Research. Just as important as the treatment of bipolar disorder, so I believe, is the support of the friends and family behind him or her that suffers from it. Even when the person effected by the disorder sees us as a threat or an adversary, it is important for those that care for that individual not to give up and give in to the continued blocking of our efforts to help.

How many of you have said about your friend or family member:

"He/She thinks the world owes him/her a favor. No matter what I do for him/her, its never enough!"
"How can someone capable of so much, actually do so little?"
"It takes so much work just to have a conversation with him/her."
"You can't tell him/her anything. Logic is lost on them."

Statements like these are common among family members of persons that suffer from bipolar disorder, and while they don't necessarily mean that your family member suffers from the disorder, they can be clear indicators that point in that direction. The content of North Sea Research will be here to help you determine whether or not your friend of family member may need help. Making the decision to help that person may be hard, and you may feel that it could ruin your relationship with that person, but in the end, it could save that persons life. Be proactive in their lives, even if it doesn't seem like it to them. In the end, it is always going to be up to the sufferer to accept the help, but in acting to push them in the right direction, you will know that you have done all that you can do.

In the coming weeks, North Sea Research will begin to fill with information and resources for the families of people that suffer from Bipolar Disorder or Manic/Depressive Illness. The information included here will be clinical definitions, warning signs, stages of development, treatment solutions and an open forum for those family members to join and share their stories and some of the solutions they have found to help their suffering family member and themselves work through this treatable disorder. Please keep coming back to see the progress.

Thank you for your time and interest,

Eric - Site and forum administrator

Any recommendations, suggestions or just sharing of your story can be sent to [email protected]

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All information in the white boxes on this and any following pages are courtesy of:

National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar Disorder. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Health and Human Services; 2001 [cited 2006 March 11]. (NIH Publication Number: 02-3679). 28 pages. Available from: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/Publicat/bipolar.cfm


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