Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder, manic-depressive disorder, or manic depression, is a serious illness that causes changes in mood, energy, and the ability to function. People with this disorder experience periods of a frenzied mood known as mania or manic episodes. The manic episodes can vary immensely in their level of seriousness and can range from feeling energetic, excitable, and highly productive to erratic and impulsive behavior with a distorted view of reality.
Many people with bipolar disorder also experience periods of depression, but some do not. Manic and depressive episodes can last from a few days to months. Only about 4% of the population is bipolar and genetics contribute to an individual’s likelihood of developing the disorder. There is no simple test to confirm bipolar disorder and the diagnosis is often a difficult one, even for mental health professionals.
Bipolar disorder and episodes of depression:
During episodes of depression you may feel very low and tired, you may have already been diagnosed with clinical depression which has been followed up by a manic episode (which can happen years later). With bipolar disorder you experience mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer), and some people may not experience a “normal” mood very often. During an episode of depression you may be overwhelmed by feelings of worthlessness, which may possibly cause thoughts of suicide and you should contact your GP or local mental health emergency services as soon as possible.
Bipolar disorder and episodes of mania:
During a manic episode you may feel very high and overactive (when this is more moderate it is often known as hypomania). During a manic episode of bipolar disorder you are likely to feel very happy and full of energy, feel ambitious plans and have plenty of ideas. It is possible you may spend large amounts of money when you can’t afford to. Other symptoms are losing track of good eating or sleeping habits, you may talk quickly and become annoyed easily. Feelings creativity and feeling happy whilst experiencing a manic episode are common. However, it is also possible to experience symptoms of psychosis and you may hear or see things that aren’t there or be convinced something which isn’t true.