Everything You Need To Know About Bipolar Disorder
A common disorder, it can be so severe that it can make daily tasks feel impossible. But with the right care, it can be successfully managed and treated
May 23, 2023
We all experience shifts in our moods at times. However, some people feel changes in mood differently. For people with bipolar disorder, experiencing heightened emotions and depressive states are often so intense that they interfere with everyday life.
Bipolar disorder (BD) is both common and treatable.
If you or someone you love has BD, a thoughtful and informed support system can help ensure symptoms are successfully managed.
Keep Reading To Learn
- The truth about bipolar disorder
- How to recognize BD in yourself or others
- How to successfully manage and treat it
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Previously called manic depression or manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder (BD) is a serious mental health condition that leads to shifts in mood. It consists of depressive states as well as episodes of mania.
During manic episodes, people feel as if they are on a “high” and have extreme amounts of energy. In depressive episodes, people experience feelings of sadness or indifference.
In addition to changing moods, bipolar disorder causes shifts in focus and activity levels. People with untreated BD can struggle with carrying out daily tasks.
Approximately 10 million people in the U.S. have bipolar disorder. It impacts men and women equally.
BD can impact sleep, self-esteem, appetite, and concentration. People with bipolar disorder can also have physical health issues, such as migraines, high blood pressure, and heart attacks.
There are different types of bipolar disorders and like every individual living with it, the condition can impact each person differently.
There Are Various Types of Bipolar Disorders
Though every form of BD leads to mood and energy level shifts, each type of bipolar disorder has its own characteristics.
Bipolar I is the “classic” type of bipolar disorder with both manic and depressive episodes present. Bipolar I is characterized by one or more manic episode that lasts for at least seven days or leads someone to seek medical care.
A manic episode involves very elevated or irritable mood. It may include increased energy, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, increased self-esteem, rapid speech, and changes in things like appetite and concentration.
People with bipolar I may also experience episodes of depression. Sometimes people experience both depressive and manic symptoms at the same time, which is called a “mixed episode.”
Some people with BD also experience symptoms of psychosis during a manic or depressive episode. Psychosis, or loss of contact with reality, leads the person to be unsure of what’s real and what’s not.
Symptoms of psychosis include unusual beliefs or perceptions, like believing things that are not true or seeing or hearing things that others don’t.
Both manic and depressive episodes represent distinct changes in a person’s mood and behavior that negatively impact daily life functioning.
Bipolar II is defined by episodes of hypomania, or an unusually energetic state of mind that affects mood, thoughts, and behaviors. The manic episodes are not as severe as in bipolar I. They may also be shorter in duration than manic episodes in bipolar I.
While less commonly experienced than in bipolar I, folks with bipolar II disorder may also experience psychosis.
Also called cyclothymia, folks with this condition tend to move between episodes of depression and mania more quickly. The symptoms do not meet the criteria for bipolar I or bipolar II. There are still episodes of depression and episodes of mania.
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