Working to end the stigma and discrimination of mental illness.

Bipolar

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 more severe than the normal ups-and-downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated. A combination of professional counseling and medication helps most people live productive and fulfilling lives.

Bipolar symptoms are sometimes not recognized as parts of a larger problem, so it can be years before a person is properly diagnosed and treated. While some experience symptoms during childhood, bipolar disorder often develops in a person's late teens or early adult years. It has been reported that at least half of all cases start before age 25. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.

Bipolar mood changes are called episodes, and people usually shift from manic to depressive episodes.

People with bipolar disorder tend to experience:

  • Excessively "high", euphoric mood
  • Extreme irritability
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers, such as feeling able to control world events
  • Decreased need for sleep without feeling tired
  • Racing thoughts or fast speech
  • Distractibility or difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation
  • Spending sprees
  • Increasing sadness or feeling very "down"
  • Worried or empty feelings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A tendency to forget things a lot
  • A lost interest in fun activities and a tendency to be less active
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Thoughts about of death or suicide

For more information on Bipolar disorder, please visit the National Institute of Mental Health's resource center ยป