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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness marked by extreme shifts in mood. Symptoms can include an extremely elevated mood called mania. They can also include episodes of depression. Bipolar disorder is also known as bipolar disease or manic depression.

Depression caused by bipolar disorder lasts at least two weeks. A high (manic) episode can last for several days or weeks. Some people will experience episodes of mood swings several times a year, while others may experience them only rarely. Here’s what having bipolar disorder feels like for some people.

Bipolar symptoms

There are three main symptoms that can occur with bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania, and depression.

During manic episodes, they may also engage in behavior such as:

Hypomania is generally associated with bipolar II disorder. It’s similar to mania, but it’s not as severe.

During an episode of depression you may experience:

Bipolar disorder can be hard to diagnose because of its varied symptoms.

Men and women are diagnosed with bipolar disorder in equal numbers. However, the main symptoms of the disorder may be different between the two genders.

Bipolar symptoms in women

  • Be diagnosed later in life, in her 20s or 30s

  • Have milder episodes of mania

  • Experience more depressive episodes than manic episodes

  • Have four or more episodes of mania and depression in a year, which is called rapid cycling

  • Experience other conditions at the same time, including thyroid disease, obesity, anxiety disorders, and migraines

  • Have a higher lifetime risk of alcohol use disorder

Bipolar symptoms in men

  • Be diagnosed earlier in life

  • Experience more severe episodes, especially manic episodes

  • Have substance abuse issues

  • Act out during manic episodes

Living with bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness. That means you’ll live and cope with it for the rest of your life. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t live a happy, healthy life.

Treatment can help you manage your mood swings and cope with your symptoms. To get the most out of treatment, you may want to create a care team to help you. In addition to your primary doctor, you may want to find a psychiatrist and psychologist. Through talk therapy, these doctors can help you cope with symptoms of bipolar disorder that medication can’t help.

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