Bipolar1Everyone has ups and downs in mood. Feeling happy, sad and angry is normal. Bipolar disorder (or manic-depressive illness, as it used to be called) is a medical condition in which people have extreme mood swings. These swings affect how people think, behave and function. Bipolar disorder typically consists of three states, the first of which is a well state in which the individual feels "normal" and experiences no symptoms of the other two states.

The second state is a high state, called mania that causes people to seem abnormally and continuously high, happy, expansive and euphoric, or irritable, angry, disruptive and aggressive, for at least one week. If this change in mood is accompanied by at least three of the following symptoms, the person may be in a manic phase of bipolar disorder.
  • exaggerated self-esteem or feeling of grandeur
  • less need for sleep
  • increased talking
  • flight of ideas or racing thoughts
  • speeded-up activity
  • poor judgment
  • psychotic symptoms.
bipolar mascarasPeople can also experience the symptoms of, what is known as hypomania, which is less severe than those of mania: the person may feel happy and have a lot of energy, but his or her life usually is not seriously disrupted. Hypomania may progress to a full-blown manic episode or a severe depression, and therefore needs treatment.
The second state involved in bipolar disorder involves an extremely low state of depression. The symptoms of depression in bipolar disorder include at least five of the following, which must be present for at least two weeks and must be present most days all day:
  • depressed mood
  • marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • weight loss or gain
  • insomnia or hypersomnia (oversleeping)
  • apathy or agitation
  • loss of energy
  • feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • inability to concentrate
  • thoughts of suicide (which should always be taken seriously).

One to two percent of adults have bipolar disorder. In adolescents and young adults, the symptoms may be less typical and may be mistaken for teenage distress or rebellion. Men and women are affected equally. In some women, bipolar disorder may appear during pregnancy or shortly after it. In this case, symptoms of depression are more common than symptoms of mania.

People with bipolar disorder may experience psychotic symptoms, such as losing touch with reality, hearing voices or having ideas that are not based in reality. Psychotic symptoms can be very frightening for the person having them and for others. Up to 25 percent of people experiencing episodes of depression or mania also have problems with movement, called catatonic symptoms. These may include extreme physical agitation or slowness and odd movements or postures.

jumpingJoy webPeople with bipolar disorder who have psychotic or catatonic symptoms are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as having schizophrenia, another severe mental illness. If this sounds familiar to you and your behaviours, or those of a loved one you are concerned about, and you would like to make some changes in your life, Contact Us for more information. If it's time to make a change and reach out for the support, recovery is a journey that starts with just one step, and only you alone can choose to take that step, but remember you are not destined to be alone when you choose to take that step with The Liberation Place!