What is Bipolar Disorder?>Commonly known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder is a serious mental condition characterized by extreme changes in mood. If you have this disorder, you experience emotional highs, or manic episodes, and lows, or depressive episodes. These episodes are distinct periods that are separate from the moods you may usually feel.
During manic episodes, you may:
- Feel very happy and energetic
- Speak very fast and about many different topics
- Become much more active than usual
- Have trouble sleeping
- Engage in impulsive behavior, like spending a large sum of money
- Sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- Very low energy and activity levels
- Forgetfulness and trouble concentrating
- Loss of appetite
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Generally considered a lifetime illness, the disorder begins in the late teen or early adult years. Bipolar disorder has no known cause, but research has shown that it tends to run in families. To diagnose it, a psychiatrist carefully assesses your moods and behavior patterns. You may also be asked to keep a daily record of your moods and other factors that can help with diagnosis and determining the right course of therapy. Counseling is a typical form of treatment, as is a group of medications that can control symptoms, called antipsychotics.