Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. It causes a person to have cycles of extreme mood changes that go beyond normal ups and downs. A person with this disorder will have periods of feeling joyful, energized, and excited (called mania). These are followed by periods of feeling sad and depressed. For this reason, it’s also called manic depression.
Depression affects your body, mood, and thoughts. It also affects how you eat and sleep, think about things, and feel about yourself. It’s not the same as being unhappy or in a blue mood. It’s not a sign of weakness or a condition that can be willed away. Treatment is often needed and is key to recovery.
Bipolar disorder affects equal numbers of men and women. But women tend to have more symptoms of depression than of mania. This disorder often begins in the teens or early adulthood.
The cause of bipolar disorder is not known. Experts agree many factors seem to play a role. This includes environmental, psychological, and genetic factors.
Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Researchers are still trying to find genes that may be linked to it.
Each person may have different symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms:
Depressive symptoms may include:
Manic symptoms may include:
To diagnose bipolar, your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms. You may have both depressive and manic symptoms to a varying degree. The symptoms of bipolar disorder may look like other mental health conditions.
Always see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis. A diagnosis is made after a careful psychiatric exam and medical history done by a mental health professional.
There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but treatment works well for many people. Treatment may include one or a combination of the following:
In most cases, consistent, long-term treatment is needed to stabilize the mood swings.
You can also take steps to help yourself. During periods of depression, consider the following:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your healthcare provider:
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