Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe.
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Signs & Symptoms:
People with bipolar disorder experience usually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called "mood episodes." An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. People with bipolar disorder also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode.
Symptoms of Mania or a Manic Episode
- A long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood
- Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling "jumpy" or "wired."
- Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
- Being easily distracted
- Increasing goal-directed activities, such as taking on new projects
- Being restless
- Sleeping little
- Having an unrealistic belief in one's abilities
- Behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable, high-risk behaviors, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments.
Symptoms of a Depressive Episode
- A long period of feeling worried or empty
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
- Feeling tired or "slowed down"
- Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Being restless or irritable
- Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
- Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide
In addition to mania and depression, bipolar disorder can cause a range of moods, as shown on the scale:
- Substance abuse is very common among people with bipolar disorder.
- Anxiety disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and social phobia.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has some symptoms that overlap with bipolar disorder, such as restlessness and being easily distracted.
- People with bipolar disorder are also at a higher risk for thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses.
- Brain structure and functioning