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