What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depressive disorder. It’s a serious illness, one that can lead to risky behavior, damaged relationships and careers, even suicidal tendencies — if it’s not treated.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme changes in mood (poles) — from mania to depression. Between these mood swings, a person with Bipolar disorder may experience normal moods.
“Manic” describes an increasingly restless, energetic, talkative, reckless, powerful, euphoric period. Lavish spending sprees or impulsive risky sex can occur. Then, at some point, this high-flying mood can spiral into something darker — irritation, confusion, anger, feeling trapped.
“Depression” describes the opposite mood — sadness, crying, sense of worthlessness, loss of energy, loss of pleasure, sleep problems.
But because the pattern of highs and lows varies for each person, bipolar disorder is a complex disease to diagnose. For some people, mania or depression can last for weeks or months, even for years. For other people, bipolar disorder takes the form of frequent and dramatic mood shifts.