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Bipolar Disorder, like depression, has been part of the human condition since the dawn of humankind. In fact, it can be persuasively argued that people with Bipolar Disorder have shaped the course of human history via influence in many fields, including the arts, religion, politics, medicine, and economics. At the same time, bipolar disorder and its associated conditions (e.g., drug and alcohol abuse, divorce etc.) can extract a great toll in terms of human suffering and mortality (e.g., cardiovascular disease, suicide).
Determining whether one has the disorder requires a very careful longitudinal history, multigenerational family history and collection of collateral history directly from family members. While the incidence of depression seems to be clearly rising, the incidence of bipolar disorder remains stable at 1-2 % of the population. Thus it is not surprising that the genetic influence in identical twins (separated at birth) is stronger in the case of bipolar disorder than it is in depression.
In mild cases of bipolar disorder, and in children, the Whole Psychiatry approach can eliminate the need for medication. In moderate and severe cases, the Whole Psychiatry approach allows for less medication and greater efficacy, with fewer side effects.