Thursday, May 16, 2013

What is bipolar disorder?

What is bipolar disorder?

Someone diagnosed with bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) experiences swings in mood from periods of overactive, excited behaviour known as mania to deep depression. Between these severe highs and lows can be stable times.

Types of bipolar disorder

Bipolar I – characterised by manic episodes – most people will experience depressive periods as well, but not all do.

Bipolar II – characterised by severe depressive episodes alternating with episodes of hypomania.

Manic episodes

Symptoms may include:
  • Feeling euphoric – excessively ‘high'
  • Restlessness, extreme irritability
  • Talking very fast, racing thoughts, aggressive behaviour
  • Lack of concentration
  • Sleeping very little
  • A feeling a sense of own importance
  • Poor judgement
  • Excessive and inappropriate spending
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Risky behaviour
  • Misusing drugs/alchohol
A person may be quite unaware of these changes in their attitude or behaviour. After a manic phase is over, they may be quite shocked at what they've done and the effect that it has had.


Some people experience a milder form (less severe and for shorter periods) of mania known as hypomania.

Individuals in a hypomanic state are extremely energetic, talkative, confident, assertive, and may have flight of ideas. During these periods people can actually become very productive and creative and therefore see these experiences as positive and valuable. Many have a decreased need for sleep, are extremely outgoing and competitive, and have a great deal of energy. Many individuals who experience hypomania become extremely goal-oriented, sometimes to an almost obsessive degree.

However, unlike with full mania, those with hypomanic symptoms are often able to keep these goals rational and concise, can plan around them, and are often therefore  fully functioning.

Hypomania if left untreated, can become more severe, can become troublesome if the subject engages in risky behaviors, and may be followed by an episode of depression.

“You feel like you're a genius, you feel you're the only person in the world who can see it the right way.”

Depressive episodes

Symptoms may include:
  • A sense of hopelessness
  • Feeling empty emotionally
  • Feeling guilty
  • Feeling worthless
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Weight loss or gain/changes in appetite
  • Loss of interest in daily life
  • Lack of concentration
  • Being forgetful
  • Suicidal feelings
“The lows, the nothing. There's nothing left in you. You're beyond tears, you're even beyond thought.”

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