What are Bipolar Disorders?
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 31-03-2023

What are Bipolar Disorders?


Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings. People with bipolar disorder experience episodes of mania, characterized by elevated and irritable moods, along with episodes of depression, characterized by sadness, hopelessness, and lethargy.

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.6% of adults in the United States, and the onset typically occurs in late adolescence or early adulthood. It affects both men and women equally and can have a significant impact on a person s quality of life if left untreated.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The symptoms of bipolar disorder vary depending on the type of episode a person is experiencing. The two main types of episodes associated with bipolar disorder are manic episodes and depressive episodes.

Manic episodes are characterized by:

  • Elevated, expansive, or irritable mood
  • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
  • Racing thoughts and a rapid speech pattern
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Grandiosity or inflated self-esteem
  • Impulsivity, poor judgment, and risk-taking behavior

Depressive episodes are characterized by:

  • Persistent sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are several types of bipolar disorder, each characterized by the type and severity of the episodes a person experiences. These include:

Bipolar I Disorder: Characterized by at least one manic episode and one depressive episode.

Bipolar II Disorder: Characterized by at least one hypomanic episode and one depressive episode.

Cyclothymic Disorder: Characterized by numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms that do not meet the diagnostic criteria for a manic or depressive episode.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: This category includes bipolar and related disorders that do not meet the diagnostic criteria for one of the above disorders.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

The exact causes of bipolar disorder are not fully understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Family history and early life stressors, such as abuse or neglect, may increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a treatable condition, and a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Medications commonly used to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, such as lithium, antipsychotic medications, and antidepressants. Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, can help people with bipolar disorder learn coping strategies, improve communication skills, and manage stress.

Lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep hygiene, can also help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder.

In conclusion, bipolar disorder is a complex mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings. It can have a significant impact on a person's quality of life if left untreated. However, with proper treatment, many people with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is important to seek help from a mental health professional.

The treatment of bipolar mood disorders is focused on a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Get online counselling at HopeQure. 

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  • Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms and Treatment - Mayoclinic
  • Recognising signs of bipolar disorder - Apa.org
  • What are bipolar disorders? - Psychiatry

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