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.
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:
Lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed
Periods of too little or too much sleep
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
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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