What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression. It causes drastic behavioral changes such as in mood, thoughts, and energy. Changes are usually extreme, from experiencing highs in a manic state, to lows in a depressed state. Bipolar disorder is more than just being in a good moor or bad mood because the moods are much more extreme and can last for days, weeks, or months. The changes in mood can be so severe that it affects a person’s daily life, causing them to no longer be able to function as they normally do.


In order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, one must fit the criteria as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). There are a few different types of bipolar disorders that a person can be diagnosed with. They include:

·         Bipolar I disorder: At least one manic episode has occurred. May have a hypomanic or major depressive episode before or after having the manic episode. May lead to hospitalization or trigger a psychosis.

·         Bipolar II disorder: At least one major depressive episode has occurred that lasted at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode lasting at least four days, but never a manic episode.

·         Cyclothymic disorder: At least two years (or one year in children and teens) of numerous periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms. Symptoms occur at least half the time and never go away for more than two months.

·         Other types include bipolar and related disorder due to another medical condition, such as Cushing's disease, multiple sclerosis, stroke, or substance and medication-induced bipolar and related disorder.

If you have bipolar disorder, you may have either a manic or hypomanic episode, or a major depressive episode. A manic episode is a ‘period of abnormally and continuous elevated irritable mood that lasts at least one week. The episode includes persistently increased goal-directed activity or energy.’ A hypomanic episode is a ‘period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive or irritable mood that lasts at least four consecutive days.’

In either a manic or hypomanic episode, a person may experience symptoms such as elevated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, unusual talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility, increased goal-directed activity, agitation, or doing things that are unusual and that have a high potential for harmful consequences.

Signs and symptoms of a major depressive episode are ones that occur every day or almost every day. They include being in a depressed mood. reduced interest or feeling no pleasure in all or most activities, significant yet unintentional weight loss, weight gain, decrease or increase in appetite, either insomnia or sleeping excessively, either restlessness or slowed behavior that others notice, fatigue or loss of energy, feeling worthlessness or constant inappropriate guilt, decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.