(found online)

According to certain scientific studies, bipolar disorder develops in men and women in about equal numbers, but there are gender differences in the ways that the illness manifests itself. Women with the disorder tend to have more depressive episodes and men tend to have more manic episodes.

"The typical bipolar woman will start with a depressive episode, whereas a man will usually get a manic episode first," says Michael First, M.D., professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University and editor of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic guidelines. (Women tend to go into the gear of WOUND, while MEN easily get into the gear of RAGE, ANGER. The two do not easily crossover into the other-sex emotion.)

Women are also more likely to present with type II bipolar, which is a milder form of the disorder. Women are more prone than men to rapid-cycling bipolar, which is characterized by four or more episodes of depression and mania in one year. Research suggests that abnormal thyroid levels may contribute to the way bipolar disorder manifests in women. Women are more likely than men to have thyroid imbalances.

"There seems to be an elevated level of  thyroid disturbancesassociated with rapid-cycling bipolar disorder," says Carrie Bearden, Ph.D., a clinical neuropsychologist and associate professor of behavioral sciences and psychology at UCLA. Other medical conditions that are seen more often in bipolar women than in men include migraines, obesity, and anxiety and panic disorders.

Reproductive hormones may also play a role in the way bipolar disorder manifests in women. Women with bipolar disorder tend to be troubled by PMS/PMDD, and bipolar symptoms often worsen during perimenopause and menopause. "During perimenopause, women may be especially at risk for depressive episodes because of declining estrogen levels," says Bearden.

Women also face the complications of managing bipolar disorder during and after pregnancy, when they appear to be more vulnerable to the condition's symptoms. Severe postpartum depression is thought to be a sign of possible bipolar disorder.

 According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, pregnant women and new moms with bipolar disorder have seven times the risk of hospitalization and two times the risk of a recurrent episode compared with women who aren't pregnant or who haven't recently delivered.

Managing bipolar disorder during pregnancy and lactation can be a challenge because some of the medications used to treat the illness carry potential risks for developing fetuses and nursing infants. Research suggests that some anticonvulsants used to treat bipolar disorder such as Depakote and Tegretol can be harmful to fetuses, possibly contributing to birth defects. Lithium and first-generation antipsychotics such as Haldol and Thorazine are considered safer. Studies have found that they carry minimal risks to developing fetuses and nursing babies.

In men, manic episodes tend to be more pronounced. In addition, men are more apt to act out aggressively during mania. "Guys are more likely to be out drinking, fighting, and yelling at people on the street, which often lands them in jail or causes them to be hospitalized for mania," says Bearden.

Men with bipolar disorder are more likely than women to have problems with drug or alcohol abuse. Men are less likely than women to seek treatment for psychological issues.

The most serious consequence of untreated bipolar disorder is suicide Studies show that between 10 and 15 percent of people with the bipolar disorder will take their own lives.

"Bipolar men are more at risk for suicide than women because suicide is more common in males," says First.

Bipolar disorder is a challenging condition, but it is manageable with proper treatment. Many people with bipolar disorder lead fulfilling, productive lives. Some well-known people with bipolar disorder include journalist Jane Pauley, actor Stephen Fry, actor Owen Wilson, actress Linda Hamilton, and psychologist/author Kay Redfield Jameson.

Nutritional Supplements for Bipolar Disorder

My own physician is a holistic health practitioner. He is a real medical doctor who can and does prescribe pharmaceutical medication when he deems it necessary. But he is also willing to work using natural therapies. If you can locate a holistic physician that participates in your insurance plan, it can be very beneficial in working on your treatment. The following are some supplements that I have found useful in managing my own condition. As I am hypersensitive to medications, I try to use as many natural supplements as possible in my own treatment.

Lithium is legally available in low doses without prescription. It is a naturally-occurring mineral salt. If you are already on prescription strength Lithium, do not switch to a non-prescription version without consulting your physician. This is, in fact, what

I take, and it made a tremendous difference in my life within a week of incorporating it.  For the first time since childhood I knew what it was like to feel somewhat in balance, not paranoid or irritable, and I was able to control my emotional outbursts. It was truly a miracle.

Lithium Orotate is a highly bioavailable form of Lithium. It can be ordered from
I take two tablets a day and will never be without it again.

Taking an excellent vitamin supplement is important for everybody. I use and recommend Garden of Life, which has seperate formulas for men and women. It is more expensive than grocery store brands, but is well worth it.

Vitamin D is a very common and inexpensive supplement that is helpful in managing depressive symptoms. This is a good vitamin for everybody. It is very difficult to build up toxic levels of this supplement, making it safe for people of all ages. I take 4000 units a day. It is especially important for people who do shift work to take vitamin D. B vitamins are also important for mood stabilization. People with mood disorders should consider taking a B-100 supplement. For those who have never taken B vitamins, do not be alarmed if your urine turns a somewhat darker color and has a noticeable odor, something like dry leaves. This is a property of B vitamin supplements and is harmless.

Omega fatty acids are also beneficial for mood stabilization and have many other general benefits as well. If you happen to have thyroid issues, they provide added benefits in stabilizing thyroid function. I use Ultra Omega from Country Life.

Mineral balance is also important for everyone, but is necessary for mood stabilization. I take the Caltrate mineral complete supplement. As well, I use Aqualyte coral calcium. This has the added benefit of alkalizing the blood pH so it remains at optimal levels. Most of us consume far too many acidic foods, and stress causes the blood to become more acidic as well. Aqualyte is provided in tea bag style sachets that can be used to treat up to 2 liters of water at a time and costs as little as $25 a month. Fear not--your water will not develop any sort of unpleasant taste. Aqualyte is currently only sold via the Internet.  Google I also take "Nerve" formula from Solaray. This should be available at most natural food stores, or can be found online. This helps balance the irritability and anxiety.

The supplement Sam-E can be helpful in the treatment of unipolar depression. However, persons with bipolar disorder should never take this supplement. Like prescription antidepressants, it can trigger mania.

Again, any treatment is not "one size fits all" and you may find other supplements or treatments that are particularly helpful for you. I welcome you to share your experiences.