It is a mental condition in which a person has marked or extreme changes in mood. Periods of feeling sad and depressed may alternate with periods of intense excitement and activity, or of feeling moody and irritable.
Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. It almost always begins between the ages of 15 and 25. The exact cause is unknown, but it occurs most often in relatives of people with the disorder.
In most people with bipolar disorder, there is no clear cause for periods (episodes) of extreme happiness and a lot of activity or energy (mania) or of depression and low activity or energy (depression). The following factors can trigger a manic episode:
Medications, such as antidepressants or steroids
Periods of not being able to sleep (insomnia)
Consumption of psychoactive drugs
The manic phase can last from days to months. It can include these symptoms:
Excessive participation in activities
Little need for sleep
Poor discernment ability
Little temper control
Lack of self-control and reckless behaviors, such as excessive drinking or drug use, increased risky sex, gambling and spending or giving away a lot of money
Very irritated mood, rushing thoughts, talking a lot, and having false beliefs about yourself or your abilities
Worry about things that are not true (delusions)
Tests and exams
To diagnose bipolar disorder, the healthcare provider may take some or all of the following actions:
Ask if other family members have bipolar disorder
Ask about recent mood swings and how long you’ve had them
Conduct a comprehensive exam and order lab tests to look for other illnesses that may be causing symptoms that resemble bipolar disorder
Talk to family members about symptoms and general health
Ask about any health problems you have and any medications you take
Monitor behavior and mood
The main goal of treatment is:
Make episodes less frequent and intense
Help you function well and enjoy life at home and at work
Prevent self-harm and suicide
Medications are an essential part of bipolar disorder treatment. Most of the time, the first drugs used are called mood stabilizers. These help you avoid mood swings and extreme swings in activity and energy levels.
With medicine, you may start to feel better. However, for some people, the symptoms of mania can feel good. Some people have side effects from medications. As a result, you may be tempted to stop taking your medications or change the way you are taking them. But stopping your medications or taking them the wrong way can cause symptoms to come back or become much worse. DO NOT stop taking or change the doses of your medications. If you have questions about your medications, talk with your provider.
Expectations (prognosis) Periods of depression or mania return in most people, even with treatment. People can also have problems with alcohol or drug abuse. They may also have problems with interpersonal relationships, school, work, and finances.
Suicide is a very real risk both during mania and depression. People with bipolar disorder who think or talk about suicide need emergency care right away.