What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder can be characterized as a mental disorder that causes dramatic shifts in mood and activity levels. About 5.7 million Americans over the age of 18 have been diagnosed with this illness. It affects people of all genders, ethnicities, social classes and ages.
The disorder mainly manifests itself in dramatic mood swings from high periods, known as mania, to low periods, known as depression. Mania is characterized by feeling extremely happy and restless for a significant period of time. During the mania phases, people with bipolar disorder can engage in dangerous behavior, and they will often be easily distracted and overconfident.
During the phases of depression, they will feel sad for an extended period of time. They will often withdraw from family and friends and lose interest in things they used to love. They may also experience feelings of sleepiness and a loss of energy.
The two most common types of the disorder are Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Bipolar I disorder is characterized by extreme manic phases that usually last at least a week and can even escalate to the point where the person needs to visit the hospital. In this type of disorder, depressive phases last about two weeks.
Bipolar II disorder is more common than Bipolar I, and its manic phases, known as hypomanic symptoms, are not as extreme. Bipolar II can be more difficult to diagnose.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from bipolar disorder, then you need to seek help from a medical professional. Bipolar disorder can only be diagnosed by a trained medical provider. Treatment options include medication and therapy. People with the disorder often have to maintain treatment over time in order to control it throughout their lives.