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Many Depressed People Have Mild, Brief Episodes of Mania
Date:8/17/2010

searchers noted that most people with bipolar disorder experience hypomania rather than mania.

"This study really helps consolidate an idea that's been around for a while, which is that there's a broad continuum -- ranging from pure unipolar depression to classic bipolar depression," said Dr. Gregory Simon, a psychiatrist and mental health researcher at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle.

Simon added that the findings raise questions about treatment implications, which need to be addressed in future studies. "Does it mean that these people may get greater benefit from some treatments rather than others? There's a way to answer that question, but we haven't done that yet."

In the meantime, Merikangas advises friends and family members to be aware of a loved one who behaves in a way that's uncharacteristic for them for a few days, like drinking more than usual or spending a lot of money, and then goes back to normal.

"If you see this kind of behavior, it's really wise for that person to get an evaluation by a mental health professional," she said. "The idea is to intervene before someone develops more serious problems, like drug and alcohol abuse. We can't prevent bipolar disease from occurring, but we can prevent the consequences."

More information

There's more on bipolar disorder at the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D., senior investigator, U.S. National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md.; Gregory Simon, M.D., M.P.H., senior investigator, Group Health Research Institute, Seattle; Aug. 16, 2010, American Journal of Psychiatry, online


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