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Illness behind the high spirits; RETRO REPORT December, 2003 How we covered...

Byline: Edited by Tony Woolway

THEY'RE the life and soul of a party, the first person to be invited to the latest social event, commanding attention with their infectious enthusiasm.

They may dominate conversations and hold court over other less-forward party-goers.

Everyone knows someone who can inject that extra something to make a night that little bit more special and memorable.

But such exuberance could be a sign of something more serious than high spirits.

It could be indicative of bipolar disorder, an illness which affects one in 100 people.

As the traditional round of Christmas parties heralds the festive season, the Manic Depression Fellowship has launched its latest drive to highlight bipolar disorder and the help available.

In a recent article about the illness, Dr Thomas Stuttaford, medical columnist for The Times, said: "Though they may appear to be social kings and queens, they need your help and sympathy later."

Clive Westwood, spokesman for the Manic Depression Fellowship in Wales, said: "This is very simplistic and trivialises a very important mental health problem. We shouldn't confuse mental health problems with personality traits.

"But, yes, people can misread elation as normal high spirits. Bipolar is under-diagnosed, particularly in its mild form. But if people feel they are experiencing symptoms there is help available."

Bipolar disorder can cause excessive changes of mood with swings from extreme depression to great elation. Mania is frequently expressed by an elevated mood, hyperactivity but can also include deluded thinking, irritability, irrational spending of money, inflated self-esteem and poor judgement.

Major depression is characterised by symptoms such as morbid sadness, lowered self-esteem and decreased energy, which may interfere with day-to-day life.

While new drugs have emerged to treat the condition, as opposed to the traditional treatment of lithium, if untreated one in seven people with manic depression will commit suicide, says the Manic Depression Fellowship.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Dec 2, 2008
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