Sometimes called manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is a long-term condition that causes extreme mood swings that range from deep depression to mania.
Depending on the individual, mood swings may occur frequently or only occasionally, and in some cases individuals may simultaneously experience symptoms of depression and mania. Bipolar disorder can be separated into three subcategories:
: A mild form of bipolar disorder that may be somewhat disruptive in a person’s life. Feelings of mania and depression are noticeable but not severe.
• Bipolar II Disorder
: A moderately severe form of bipolar disorder, this classification is characterized by hypomania, a less intense form of mania, and longer periods of depression.
• Bipolar I Disorder
: Symptoms of this severe form of bipolar disorder generally have a disruptive effect on a person’s life, making it difficult to work and maintain relationships. Manic and depressive episodes can be dangerous.
Although there is no definite formula that causes bipolar disorder, several factors may be involved in causing or triggering the condition, including:
: The brains of individuals with bipolar disorder appear somewhat physically different from those without the condition. The causes behind these changes have not yet been identified.
: Mood disorders such as bipolar disorder are often linked to an imbalance in these brain chemicals.
: Individuals with a hormone imbalance may be more susceptible to bipolar disorder.
: Individuals who have a bipolar blood relative are more likely to experience the disorder.
: Feelings of stress, loss, or abuse may play a role in triggering bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary across individuals, but there are certain common characteristics of the condition.
During the manic or hypomanic phase, a person typically experiences
• Extreme optimism
• Inflated self-esteem
• Poor judgment
• Rapid speech
• Racing thoughts
• Aggressive behavior
• Increased physical activity
• Risky behavior
• Increased sex drive
• Decreased need for sleep
• Increased drive to achieve goals
• Difficulty concentrating
• Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
• Frequent absences from, or poor performance at work or school
• Delusions or psychosis
Symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder include
• Suicidal thoughts
• Sleeping problems
• Trouble concentrating
• Decreased or increased appetite
• Chronic pain with no apparent cause
• Poor performance at work or school
• Frequent absences from work or school
Bipolar disorder is often viewed in a very negative light, but several celebrities, most recently actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, affected by the disorder have come forward in hopes of reducing the stigma surrounding the condition.
Famous figures with Bipolar Disorder include
Catherine Zeta-Jones (actor)
Ben Stiller (actor)
Mel Gibson (actor)
Axl Rose (musician)
Demi Lovato (actor)
Carrie Fisher (actor)
Sinead O’Connor (musician)
Kurt Cobain (musician)
If you or someone you know experiences the symptoms listed above, seek medical help immediately. Bipolar Disorder can be successfully treated with medicine, hospitalization, and various types of therapy.
For more on Bipolar Disorder, see
Bipolar Disorder Tools
Bipolar Disorder News
Bipolar Disorder: Misdiagnosis
Bipolar Disorder Treatment
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