What is it?
Bipolar disorder, also known by its older name "manic depression," is a mental disorder that is characterized by serious mood swings. A person with bipolar disorder experiences alternating “highs” (what clinicians call “mania“) and “lows” (also known as depression). Both the manic and depressive periods can be brief, from just a few hours to a few days, or longer, lasting up to several weeks or even months. The periods of mania and depression vary from person to person — many people may only experience very brief periods of these intense moods, and may not even be aware that they have bipolar disorder.
causes - biological traits- experts say that patients with bipolar disorder often have physical changes that occurred in their brains. Nobody is sure why the changes can lead to the disorder.
Who's at risk?
Factors that may increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder or act as a trigger for the first episode include:
- Having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with bipolar disorder
- Periods of high stress
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Major life changes, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic experiences
Signs & Symtoms
Signs and symptoms during manic/hypomanic episodes:
- A feeling of being on top of the world, exhilaration or euphoria
- Over-self-confidence, an inflated sense of self-esteem
- The patient's judgment may be impaired
- The patient talks a lot, and very rapidly
- Thoughts come and go rapidly (racing thoughts). Sometimes bizarre solutions come to the patient's mind, and they are acted upon. This may involve, for example, attempting to redo the plumbing in the house, or re-arranging everything that is in the fridge in order to solve a totally unrelated problem.
- In this phase the individual may be extremely forthcoming, sometimes aggressively so
- The sufferer is more likely to engage in risky behavior, including promiscuity (higher libido), abuse illegal drugs and/or alcohol, and take part in dangerous activities
- The patient may squander money on things that are of no benefit to them or their families
- Concentration difficulties; during the manic episode the individual may be easily distracted
- Missing work or school a lot
- Psychosis - including delusions and thinking and believing things that are not real
- Underperforming at work or school.
Going to therapy