To awe and inspire
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To awe and inspire

Q: My mother has obtained manic deppresion. She is alwaysvery irratable. No matter what i do it seems to be wrong. I am trying to learn more about it. So, in school we have to do a project on a disease and decided to do this one. Can you pleas tell me: 1) clear and accurate description of the disease 2)how the disease affects the body 3)what specific humans are affected 4)cause of the disease 5)can it be prevented how? how many people are diagnosed with it each year 6)Is it life threating 7)Symptoms 8)treatments I would really appreciate it if you could help me. Please reply! Sarah age:13

[Isn't this a sad yet sort of hopeful letter -- to think that someone would have to be in her position, but then respond by trying to educate herself like this!]

Dear Sarah --
I'm sorry to hear you're in the position you describe.  It must be very, very difficult for you.   But good for you that you want to try to understand it more.  You have asked questions to which the answers are very long.  Try reading my site for answers that apply to one version of bipolar disorder, called bipolar II.  I think you'll find a start toward all these questions except how many are diagnosed per year. 

Here's a stab at that.  Estimated at 1-2% of population -- that's say 1% of 250 million, which gives us 250,000,000 x .01 = 2.5 million people affected total.  How many show up for treatment?  No more than 50%, but still that's 1.25 million people (and this is just in the U.S. alone).  How many of them show up for treatment for the first time per year?  Uh, not sure on that.  Maybe 1%? It's probably more.  Let's see, 1% of 1.25 million is 1,250,000 x .01 = 12,500 people per year (and double that coming down with symptoms per year, or 25,000 people.  If all the states had an equal population, that would be 25,000 per each of the 50 states, or 25,000/50 : 500 people per state per year developing bipolar disorder.  In other words, "it's common"! 

Good luck to you, you plucky kid

Dr. Phelps


Published December, 2000

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