A recent study shows that about 12 percent of those individuals with epilepsy also have symptoms of bipolar disorder. This study, conducted by Dr. Alan B. Ettinger of the Long Island Jewish medical Center in New York, were searching to discover the prevalence of bipolar symptoms in a community-based group of a little more than 85,000 adults.

His team of researchers found that this was about twice the frequency than in groups with other health concerns.

The team divided the community-based group into sub groups, depending on any health concerns. They include segments who suffered from epilepsy, migraine, asthma and diabetes. They also had a healthy comparison group as well.

Not only was the rate of symptoms of bipolar disorder discovered with two times the frequency of the other groups suffering with a health problem, but the rate was more than six times that found in the healthy, control group.

Dr. Ettinger suggests that "bipolar [disorder] symptoms and perhaps formal bipolar disorder may be significantly under recognized in patients with epilepsy." He also considers the possibility that bipolar disorder may also be a disorder that goes unrecognized in people with other health problems as well, based on his findings.

One reason for not seeing the symptoms of bipolar disorder in those people with epilepsy, Dr. Ettinger says, is that the epilepsy medication may also be treating the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

But the results may explain one facet of epilepsy. If, indeed, more individuals than previously thought suffered from both epilepsy and bipolar disorder, Ettinger explains, that "may [explain] the commonly described vulnerability to mood instability in individuals with epilepsy,"

Bipolar disorder, formerly called, manic depression, is characterized by the appearance of wide mood swings from depression to mania - or a euphoric high. More than 5.7 million adults in the United States alone suffer with some severity of bipolar disorder.