Skip to content

Everything You Need To Know About Bipolar Disorder

bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder (BD), also known as manic depression, is a mental disorder that can cause extreme changes in mood – from high, elated moods (mania/hypomania) to low or “down” periods (depression).

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric condition where your thoughts, emotions, mood, behavior and energy levels become highly erratic and magnified. It is marked by recurrent episodes of mania or hypomania where you can experience an elevated mood, which is quickly followed by episodes of depression. Such episodes can last from a few days to a few weeks. It is also identified as bipolar affective disorder and manic-depressive illness.

Studies show that about 1% of the global population suffers from bipolar disorder. If you have bipolar disorder, then it is likely that you will experience extreme mood swings leading to exhaustion, confusion, sorrow, and even euphoria. Such rapid and extreme changes in mood can result in suicidal ideation and behavior. In fact, research shows that suicidal behavior is 10-30 times higher in patients with BD. Moreover, about 20-60% of sufferers attempt suicide at least once, while  20% of sufferers successfully commit suicide.

However, treatment involving psychological therapy and medication can help someone manage the symptoms of mania and bipolar depression. 

Related: Understanding Bipolar Affective Disorder

Types of bipolar disorder

Types of bipolar disorder
Everything You Need To Know About Bipolar Disorder

There are 3 different types of bipolar disorder and all the variations involve drastic shifts in mood and energy levels. 

1. Bipolar I disorder 

Involves episodes of intense mania preceded or followed by severe depression. You may also experience psychosis or a loss of contact with reality.

2. Bipolar II disorder

Involves a less intense form of mania known as hypomania preceded or followed by severe depression. 

3. Cyclothymic disorder 

Also known as Cyclothymia, it involves symptoms of hypomania and depression for a period of at least 2 years in adults and 1 year in children & adolescents.

There are other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders, where the sufferer may not meet the diagnostic criteria for the other 3 types, but still experiences episodes of abnormal mood swings.

It should be noted that he tenth edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) “does not discriminate between bipolar disorder types I and II.”

Related: What Is Manic Depression?

Symptoms of bipolar disorder

Everything You Need To Know About Bipolar Disorder
Everything You Need To Know About Bipolar Disorder

Although symptoms can vary depending on the intensity and frequency of the condition, there are several common manic and depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder that can be observed in someone with BD. Some of common bipolar disorder symptoms are mentioned below- 

1. Manic symptoms

  • High levels of energy
  • Feeling euphoric
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Risky behavior like having unprotected sex or spending sprees
  • Speaking rapidly or loudly
  • Being highly active or productive
  • Extremely high spirited
  • Being excessively irritable
  • Feeling bored easily
  • Substance abuse
  • Delusions & hallucinations (in rare cases)

2. Depressive symptoms

  • Intense sadness 
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness or helplessness
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Listlessness 
  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep and appetite
  • Indecisiveness 
  • Uncontrollable crying 
  • Exhaustion & loss of energy
  • Feeling guilt or shame
  • Suicidality or self-harm

Do you have bipolar disorder? Take this quick bipolar disorder test to find out.

Causes of bipolar disorder

So what causes bipolar disorder? Although researchers are yet to determine the exact causes for the development of the bipolar disorder, it is believed that mental illness is influenced by a number of different factors. Here are some factors that may contribute to the onset of manic bipolar disorder –

1. Genetic factors

Studies show that people with a family history of BD can develop this condition. Hence, if you have a first-degree family member with bipolar I or bipolar II, then you have a 10-fold increased risk for developing bipolar disorder. “The risk of bipolar disorder is 10-25% when one parent has a mood disorder,” explains a research paper.

2. Biological factors

Brain structure & functioning can also influence the onset of BD as imbalance in hormones and neurotransmitters can affect the brain. Studies show that bipolar disorder can be “characterized by dysregulation in the dopamine and serotonin systems and by pathology in the brain systems involved in regulating emotion.” Moreover, BD can also appear due to the following neurological conditions –

  • Stroke
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Temporal lobe epilepsy
  • HIV 
  • Porphyria
Pages: 1 2 3

Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts