Dear Dr. Roach: Is it possible for a person to reach the age of 70 and just now be diagnosed with bipolar disorder? Are there degrees of impairment, like with autism some worse than others? C.S.
Answer: The hallmark of bipolar disease is mania. Mania has a specific meaning in psychiatry: Its a very elevated mood, associated with high amounts of energy and an inability to think clearly, especially to see the consequences of ones actions. Some common features of people in a manic episode include an inflated sense of self-worth, distractibility and racing ideas. People can be very talkative and feel little need to sleep. Dangerously, people in a manic phase can spend large amounts of money and have many sexual indiscretions.
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