Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a serious mental illness. People with bipolar disorder go through dramatic mood swings and elevated levels of energy levels and cognition. Episodes of mania are experienced when a person feels very elated and “up,” being much more active than usual. When episodes of depression hit, it leaves the person feeling very sad and “down,” and are less active than normal.
Bipolar disorder symptoms are more intense than the emotions of a person who does not have bipolar disorder. They can damage relationships and make it difficult to go to school or keep a job. Symptoms can also be dangerous. Some people with bipolar disorder try to harm themselves or, in extreme cases, attempt suicide.
Bipolar disorder can be genetic. It typically begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, but children can experience it too. The disorder will usually last for a lifetime.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Bipolar mood changes are called “mood episodes.” People may experience manic episodes, depressive episodes, or “mixed” episodes. A mixed episode includes both manic and depressive symptoms. These mood episodes produce symptoms that last a week or two, and sometimes longer. During an episode, the symptoms may continue every day, for most of the day. Mood episodes are powerful. The feelings are intense and happen along with extreme modifications in behavior and energy levels.
People experiencing a manic episode may:
People having a depressive episode may:
Can bipolar exist with other problems?
Yes, sometimes people experiencing very strong mood episodes may also have psychotic symptoms. These are powerful symptoms that also cause hallucinations (when people trust things that are not real). Someone with mania and psychotic symptoms may think they are rich and famous, or have special powers. People experiencing depression and psychotic symptoms might believe they have committed a crime, or that their lives are over.
Behavioral problems can also go along with mood episodes. A person may drink excessively or take drugs, developing an addiction. Some people take a lot of risks, such as spending too much money or having reckless sex. These problems can ruin lives and harm relationships. Some people with bipolar disorder have difficulty keeping a job or doing well in school.
Is there help?
Bipolar Disorder can be successfully treated with medication and talk therapy. There are many methods which allow you to regain your quality of life.
Information provided by the National Institutes of Health.