This chronic mental illness, also known as manic-depressive disorder, has been getting recent media attention due to Catherine Zeta Jones being diagnosed with it (along with many other celebrities, including Stephen Fry and Russel Brand, already having it) and Charlie Sheen denying allegations that he’s bipolar, claiming he’s “bi-winning”:
Manic Depression entails a period of elevated mood swinging unexpectedly to a period of depression. The cause can be due to physical damage to the brain but is usually genetic; Lita and her 5 children have the illness – she explains how it is to deal with the everyday-struggle.
A recent article in the New Scientist told the story of Rebecca Riley, a 4-year-old who had bipolar disorder, overdosing on her medications and dying. It’s not known whether this was due to the parents giving too much to her deliberately or accidentally. This just added fuel to the already raised issues about the disorder being diagnosed too frequently, especially in children.
Mostly, the reason for overdiagnosis is because the symptoms, such as angst, low mood, deflated confidence, can be mistaken for the disorder. Though these are some of the symptoms, they need to go along with symptoms from the other end of the spectrum: elation, feeling important, being overactive. Another cause is the medicine for treating bipolar disorder is in high abundance which makes doctors more comfortable – they feel at ease with a problem they can solve.