Bipolar disorder is a condition that features extreme shifts in mood and fluctuations in energy and activity levels that can make day-to-day living difficult.
Previously known as manic depression, it is a serious mental illness that, if left untreated, can destroy relationships, undermine career prospects, and seriously affect academic performance. In some cases, it can lead to suicide.
Diagnosis most commonly occurs between the ages of 15 and 25 years, but it can happen at any age. It affects males and females equally.
- Bipolar disorder is a serious condition that involves severe abnormalities in mood.
- The person experiences alternating bouts of mania or hypomania and depression, which may involve psychosis.
- Episodes may last several weeks or months, with periods of stability in between.
What is bipolar disorder?
The main symptoms of bipolar disorder are alternating episodes of extreme euphoria, or mania, and major depression.
The fluctuations can be severe, but moods may be normal between the peaks and troughs. The mood swings involved in bipolar disorder are far more severe, debilitating, and incapacitating than those experienced by most people.
Hallucinations and other symptoms may occur in some people.
With treatment, many people with the condition can work, study, and live a full and productive life. However, some people stop taking their medication or choose not to take it.
Some studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder may have enhanced creativity. However, mood swings can make it hard to sustain attention to projects or follow through with plans, resulting in the person having a lot of projects started, but nothing finished.