It sounds more like something from the Dick Tracy comic strip than a device that can help individuals with bipolar disorder. It looks like a watch, but instead of telling time, it monitors human activity. It just may be able to help people who suffer from bipolar disorder manage their episodes more effectively. Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is characterized by moods which alternate from depression to euphoria accompanied by irritability and even delusions of grandeur. In some instances the euphoria - called a manic episode - can last for days without the individual who has bipolar disorder sleeping during this time.

The device works under the long-held premise that bipolar disorder is linked somehow to a person's body clock, called the circadian rhythm. It's this rhythm, many scientists contend, that somehow affect the mood swings characteristic of bipolar disorder . Now there seems to be clinical evidence to back this theory of bipolar disorder up, thanks to Dr. Greg Murray, a clinical psychologist at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Murray asked 15 adults suffering with bipolar disorder to wear what's called an actigraph. This is an apparatus which is placed on an individual's wrist that measures the person's movement. Not surprisingly, arm movements were at their greatest during the day. The smallest amount of movement occurred at night. In addition to the recording of the movement, those with bipolar disorderbipolar disorder. They discovered that those with bipolar disorderbipolar disorder are associated with a disruption in the waking and sleeping patterns of individuals. Of the results, Dr. Murray commented: 'It's an accepted part of clinical law that the vulnerability to bipolar disorder is associated -somehow - with some sort of instability in [circadian] rhythms. Mania, in particular, is preceded by a period of time when the person sleeps less. It's not insomnia; it's a lack of drive for sleep.' Further research needs to be done, Dr. Murray explains, to actually verify the initial findings of this research on bipolar disorder mood swings. The goal will be to interpret the information the actigraph provides in order to provide individuals with bipolar disorder an early warning signal of episodes. If a person realizes that symptoms of bipolar disorder are about to recur, Dr. Murray explains, there could be ways to prepare him for it. With such forewarning, those with bipolar disorder could modify their medication, take specific measures to restore their disrupted sleep cycle or even change their behavior to head off a particular episode of bipolar disorder in the study were also asked to keep records of their moods and of the medications they took.

The researchers combed this information in an attempt to establish an association between the amount of movement and the moods of those with were most vulnerable to mood swings when the difference between peaks in the day movement and the ebbs in the nightly movements were the smallest. This helps to establish the theory that the symptoms of