What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that is characterized by cycling mood changes from intense mania or euphoria to episodes of depression. Bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder, which seriously affects a person’s mood and interferes with a person’s ability to function effectively in everyday life. Bipolar disorder occurs in equal numbers in both sexes. 

During the periods of intense mania, the person has a very high level of energy, alertness and excitability with an extremely elevated mood. These periods of mania alternate with episodes of depression that includes a low energy level and overwhelming, persistent feelings of sadness and despair.

Some people with bipolar disorder may experience a combination of symptoms of mania and depression called a mixed state. In some cases, there can be a rapid shifting from symptoms of mania to symptoms of depression called rapid cycling.

There is no specific cure for bipolar disorder, but the good news is that bipolar disorder is treatable. Treatment of bipolar disorder varies depending on the severity of the condition, and your medical history, age, and general health. Treatment generally includes a combination of medications and psychotherapy.

Complications of bipolar disorder can be serious, even life threatening, and include delirium, paranoia, suicidal thoughts and, in extreme cases, suicide attempts. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with or know, are delirious, delusional, or are having or expressing feelings of wanting to hurt or kill oneself or another person.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

The severity and types of symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person but generally affect mood, energy and functioning. Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of intense mania or euphoria that alternate with episodes of depression. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can seriously interfere with a person’s ability to function normally in relationships and activities of everyday life, such as work, school, social activities, and self-care.... Read more about bipolar disordersymptoms

CAUSES

What causes bipolar disorder?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but there may a genetic link to the disorder. Most people with bipolar disorder have a close relative with bipolar disorder or with depression. Bipolar disorder is also sometimes associated with an imbalance of chemicals in the brain or hormonal deficiencies.... Read more about bipolar disordercauses

TREATMENTS

How is bipolar disorder treated?

The overall treatment goal for people living with bipolar disorder is to minimize mood swings and other symptoms so that they can live functional and productive lives. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, and treatment generally needs to be lifelong to most effectively control symptoms. The most effective treatment plans employ a multifaceted approach:... Read more about bipolar disordertreatments

Medical Reviewer: Williams, Robert MD Last Annual Review Date: Mar 1, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mental Health and Behavior, Bipolar Disorder