Living with Bipolar Disorder

people with bipolar disorder

Free event includes film, discussion

RANDOLPH – Gifford Medical Center, in collaboration with the Vermont chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Clara Martin Center, is hosting a May 1 free educational program called “Living with Bipolar Disorder.”

The 5:30-7:30 p.m. event in Gifford’s Conference Center features a film by the same title with a discussion to follow. The 43-minute film features an introduction by actor Joe Pantoliano, a review of the illness by clinical expert Dr. Joe Calabrese of Case Medical Center in Cleveland and stories of people who have bipolar disorder or have been affected by it.

Bipolar disorder is a neurobiological brain illness characterized by extremes of mood, thought and behavior. Manic-depression is an older term for bipolar disorder and refers to the classic episodes of manic highs and depressive lows, explains Gifford mental health professional Cory Gould.

The latest research on bipolar disorder emphasizes it as a cycling illness. Gould points to a Web site by author and bipolar patient John McManamy dedicated to the disorder. “What we call bipolar is an enormously complex illness … . Simply knowing that we have ups and downs is not sufficient. What we need to know is how these ups and downs relate, what is driving them and what else is interacting with the dynamic,” McManamy writes.

Bipolar disorder is thought to affect 2-3 percent of the American population, although some expert researchers think the figure is closer to 5 percent. Equal numbers of men and women are affected.

Typically, the first episode occurs in the teens or early 20s. But bipolar disorder can also begin in childhood. Fortunately, kids respond to treatment and can lead normal lives – just like adults with the illness – when it is managed optimally, Gould notes.

“Knowledge is power. Learning everything you can is essential to recovery,” Gould says. “We now have many more tools to help people with bipolar disorder.”

Anyone interested in expanding their knowledge of the disorder is invited to attend the May 1 event. Light refreshments will be served. No registration is required, but questions can be addressed to Gould at (802) 728-7100, ext. 7.

The Gifford Conference Center is on the first floor of the 44 S. Main St. (Route 12) medical center. From the patient parking area, take the entrance under the green awning marked “Conference Center.” For handicapped accessibility, use the main entrance marked “Registration” and take the elevator to the first floor.

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