Life For People With Manic-depression
Q: The National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association (National DMDA) and the
American Psychiatric Association (APA) announced on May 24, 1993 the results of
the first ever comprehensive survey of people with manic-depression which
revealed that prompt medical diagnosis and treatment dramatically improve the
quality of life for those who have the illness.
However, the survey shows that even mental health professionals continue to have
trouble diagnosing the illness correctly which result in a variety of chronic
personal and professional difficulties for the more than three million Americans
with the disorder.
A:In manic depressive illness, also known as bipolar disorder, patients alternate between periods of manic (intense "highs", racing thoughts, grandiose and unrealistic plans and ideas) lasting weeks or months with even longer periods of extreme, debilitating depression. The significant study of the illness and its effect on the day to day lives of people with the condition was presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. Sponsored jointly by the National DMDA and the APA, the study reports both good and bad news in the fight against bipolar illness. On one hand the study finds that, all too often and for too long a period of time, the illness goes undetected or misdiagnosed. However, when correctly diagnosed and treated, people with the illness can and do lead productive, fulfilling lives. National DMDA Executive Director Susan Dime-Meenan calls the survey a milestone on the road to a better understanding of manic-depressive illness. "For the first time ever, people with bipolar illness are using their collective voice to tell the psychiatric community and the world about their illness and how it affects their lives," says Dime-Meenan. "The survey presents a clear call to action for better and more rapid diagnosis of manic-depression." The National DMDA/APA sponsored the random mail survey of 500 National DMDA members diagnosed with bipolar illness to determine how their illness affected their relationships, their marriages, their jobs, their schooling, and, importantly, their self-esteem. The survey was conducted by the Wirthlin Group and was funded by an educational grant from Abbott Laboratories.
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