Bipolar disorder is characterised by mood swings from extremes of depression to euphoria and mania, often accompanied by unusual thoughts and delusions. David A. Solomon from Brown University, Rhode Island and his colleagues have been looking into the ups and downs of bipolar disorder and the factors that affect recovery from its extreme highs and lows. They found that the median (mid-range) length of mood episodes was 13 weeks and that about three-quarters of patients had recovered from these episodes within a year. Those who became ill sooner - having psychosis in the first week of an episode for example - had a lower probability of recovery as did people who had spent a longer time being ill over the years. People with 'cycling' episodes who moved very quickly from extreme highs to extreme lows or vice versa were also less likely to recover compared to those who only had one 'episode' at a time.
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