About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a treatable illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. It is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression because a person’s mood can alternate between the "poles" mania (highs) and depression (lows). This change in mood or "mood swing" can last for hours, days weeks or months.

Bipolar disorder affects more than two million adult Americans. It usually begins in late adolescence (often appearing as depression during teen years) although it can start in early childhood or later in life. An equal number of men and women develop this illness (men tend to begin with a manic episode, women with a depressive episode) and it is found among all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes. The illness tends to run in families and appears to have a genetic link. Like depression and other serious illnesses, bipolar disorder can also negatively affect spouses and partners, family members, friends and coworkers. (top)

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder differs significantly from clinical depression, although the symptoms for the depressive phase of the illness are similar. Most people who have bipolar disorder talk about experiencing "highs" and "lows" – the highs are periods of mania, the lows periods of depression. These swings can be severe, ranging from extreme energy to deep despair. The severity of the mood swings and the way they disrupt normal life activities distinguish bipolar mood episodes from ordinary mood changes.

Symptoms of mania - the "highs" of bipolar disorder

Increased physical and mental activity and energy 

Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence 

Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior 

Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue 

Grandiose delusions, inflated sense of self-importance 

Racing speech, racing thoughts, flight of ideas 

Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility 

Reckless behavior 

In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations 

Symptoms of depression - the "lows" of bipolar disorder

Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells 

Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns 

Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety 

Pessimism, indifference 

Loss of energy, persistent lethargy 

Feelings of guilt, worthlessness 

Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness 

Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal 

Unexplained aches and pains 

Recurring thoughts of death or suicide 

If you or someone you know has thoughts of death or suicide, contact a medical professional, clergy member, loved one, friend or hospital emergency room or call 1-800-273-TALK or 911 immediately.

Bipolar Symptoms

Bipolar World

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

Bipolar Illness

Test Yourself For Bipolar Illness 
If you are not feeling like your normal self please take this test and contact a metal health professional.