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Bipolar Disorder

To outsiders looking in, bipolar disorder can be hard to recognise as it comes in many forms. It’s a complex disorder, and people living with bipolar disorder will have periods of depression and mania and will alternate between these two extremes.

For someone experiencing mania, you may feel like you have tonnes of energy and become ‘full of life’. You feel excited about everything and experience a huge surge in productivity. Your creativity may feel especially heightened during this period. There is a decreased need for sleep and you might spend time coming up with new ideas or become intensely productive because of that increase in energy. On the outside, others may see someone who is fun, optimistic, and the life of the party. However, more intense bouts of mania may lead to reckless and impulsive behaviours such as spending all your money, becoming overly sexual/sexually active, and drinking too much. Mania can be mild, moderate, or severe, so it is sometimes more difficult to distinguish between happiness and elation with a mood disorder.

On the other side of Bipolar Disorder, bouts of depression are also common. The symptoms mirror ‘regular’ clinical depression. You may feel a deep sadness/lowness, hopelessness, a loss of energy, and a lack of interest in activities. It is common during this episode to over-sleep and experience a change in appetite. You may also be thinking about death and possibly suicide.

There are several types of bipolar disorder

Each distinguished by the pattern of mood shifts:

  • Bipolar I disorderManic episodes will typically last at least one week. These episodes may be severe enough to warrant immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes usually occur as well, and last at least two weeks. These episodes may occur before or after the manic episode. In essence, A person affected by bipolar I disorder has experienced at least one manic episode in their life. A manic episode is a period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood and high energy, accompanied by behavior that disrupts functioning.
  • Bipolar II disorder – This disorder is made up of a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic manic episodes (less severe than manic episodes), without ever having a full manic episode. Typically, people with this disorder will experience one major depressive episode that lasts at least two weeks. They also have at least one hypomanic episode that lasts about four days.
  • Cyclothymic disorder – Multiple episodes of manic and depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years, though not meeting the full diagnostic criteria of hypomanic or depressive episodes.

Read more about depression here.

Back to all disorders

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