Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy, or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and the ability to think clearly.
Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year. While most people will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some may not experience any.
Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. They may include mania or hypomania and depression. Symptoms can cause unpredictable changes in mood and behavior, resulting in significant distress and difficulty in life.
Bipolar I disorder. You’ve had at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania may trigger a break from reality (psychosis).
Bipolar II disorder. You’ve had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but you’ve never had a manic episode.
Cyclothymic disorder. You’ve had at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression).
Other types. These include, for example, bipolar and related disorders induced by certain drugs or alcohol or due to a medical condition, such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.
Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods, which can cause significant impairment.
Mania And Hypomania Types Of Bipolar Disorder
Mania and hypomania are two distinct types of episodes, but they have the same symptoms. Mania is more severe than hypomania and causes more noticeable problems at work, school, and social activities, as well as relationship difficulties. Mania may also trigger a break from reality (psychosis) and require hospitalization.
Both a manic and a hypomanic episode include three or more of these symptoms:
- Abnormally upbeat, jumpy, or wired
- Increased activity, energy, or agitation
- An exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria)
- Decreased need for sleep
- Unusual talkativeness
- Racing thoughts
- Poor decision-making — for example, going on buying sprees, taking sexual risks, or making foolish investments
Major depressive episode
A major depressive episode includes symptoms that are severe enough to cause noticeable difficulty in day-to-day activities, such as work, school, social activities, or relationships. An episode includes five or more of these symptoms:
- Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or tearful (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)
- Marked loss of interest or feeling no pleasure in all — or almost all — activities
- Significant weight loss when not dieting, weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite (in children, failure to gain weight, as expected, can be a sign of depression)
- Either insomnia or sleeping too much
- Either restlessness or slowed behavior
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt
- Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
- Thinking about, planning, or attempting suicide
Other Features Of Bipolar Disorder
Signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II disorders may include other features, such as anxious distress, melancholy, psychosis, or others. The timing of symptoms may include diagnostic labels such as mixed or rapid cycling. In addition, bipolar symptoms may occur during pregnancy or change with the seasons.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in children and teens
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be difficult to identify in children and teens. It’s often hard to tell whether these are normal ups and downs, the results of stress or trauma, or signs of a mental health problem other than bipolar disorder.
Children and teens may have distinct major depressive or manic or hypomanic episodes, but the pattern can vary from that of adults with bipolar disorder. And moods can rapidly shift during episodes. Some children may have periods without mood symptoms between episodes.
The most prominent signs of bipolar disorder in children and teenagers may include severe mood swings that are different from their usual mood swings.
Complications Of Bipolar Disorder
- Left untreated, bipolar disorder can result in serious problems that affect every area of your life, such as:
- Problems related to drug and alcohol use
- Suicide or suicide attempts
- Legal or financial problems
- Damaged relationships
- Poor work or school performance
Co-Occurring Conditions Of Bipolar Disorder
If you have bipolar disorder, you may also have another health condition that needs to be treated along with the bipolar disorder. Some conditions can worsen bipolar disorder symptoms or make treatment less successful. Examples include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Alcohol or drug problems
- Physical health problems, such as heart disease, thyroid problems, headaches, or obesity
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