What is Bipolar Disorder?

Jul 15, 2021
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that affects a human's mood, and overall ability to function.


Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that affects a human's mood, and overall ability to function. Manic depression, bipolar mood disorder, and manic-depressive disorder are few other terms used for this condition. This illness severely disturbs an individual's life and the impact differs from case to case. People suffering from bipolar disorder experience constant mood swings that last up to several hours. While usual mood swings are common, the changes in one’s mood caused by this disorder are more intense when they appear with other symptoms. Frequent manic episodes that cause hyperactivity, irritability, insomnia, euphoria are common signs of bipolar disorder.

As per reports, this mental health disorder harms about 5.7 million people in the US. The principal factor about this ailment is it affects people from all age groups and genders especially the young and middle age population who are in their prime and productive years of their life.


The symptoms of the bipolar condition are not the same in any two cases. Each patient has a combination of symptoms that fall in between the three bipolar disorder types that are classified:


Bipolar I disorder is identified by one major manic episode followed by depressive or hypomanic episodes. People who have bipolar I disorder experience a sudden increase in energy and irritability for no reason. In some cases of bipolar I disorder, even one manic or depressive episode could lead to psychosis, which may be a serious condition.


People who suffer from one incidence of major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode are diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. The unique aspect of this condition is that a person may behave normally between any two incidents. The chances of a person suffering from bipolar II disorder are high if they are already diagnosed with mental illnesses like substance use disorder or depression.


Cyclothymia is less disruptive than bipolar I and II disorders. The symptoms of this condition are also much milder compared to the other two. Experiencing numerous mood swings is a common feature of cyclothymic disorder. 


Bipolar disorder symptoms tend to be different in men, women, and children. Here are the differentiations.


The symptoms commonly found in men are:

  • Suffering from substance use
  • Experiencing more severe manic episodes
  • Violence and extreme aggression
  • Being diagnosed in teenage and early 20s 


Women show the following symptoms:

  • Milder episodes of mania
  • Experience more depressive than manic episodes
  • Display higher risk of alcohol use disorder
  • Diagnosed either at the onset of 21 years or in the late 40s 


Signs of bipolar disorder in children include: 

  • Hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and aggression or socially unacceptable behavior
  • Low amounts of sleep or insomnia
  • Mood swings associated with irritability or despondency experienced almost on a daily basis


The causes of most mental illnesses are uniquely similar, such as:


Like many biological illnesses, bipolar disorder is a condition that a person could develop if their first-degree relatives like parents and siblings suffer from the same. However, it doesn’t need to run in the family for a person to suffer from it. Researchers are still figuring out the potential reasons for this disorder related to genetics.


A person seldom experiences mental illnesses if their mental state is intact. Any bad experiences or circumstances can cause changes in a person’s brain that are uncontrollable. Because of this and many other reasons, an individual's psychological state is one of the primary reasons for the occurrence of bipolar disorder.


Certain medical conditions such as Thyroid disease and other hormonal and metabolic conditions can either cause or worsen mood-related diseases including Bipolar Disorder. Certain medication usage, as well as substance use, also can give rise to Bipolar Disorder.


Diagnosing bipolar disorder can be a difficult task. Depending on the symptoms, the following methods confirm its presence.


A psychiatrist may ask their potential client to undergo a comprehensive psychiatric evaluation including mental status examination in the process of diagnosing Bipolar Disorder. Often the patient’s family and close ones are also engaged in these sessions to gather collateral information about the individual.


There are cases when physical condition influences mental health to an unusual extent. The impact of this is that the person starts to show clear signs of bipolar disorder. Some noticeable physical changes that help the psychiatrist diagnose this condition are sudden weight gain/loss, constant sleepiness or insomnia, heightened risk for infection or inflammation


Therapy for bipolar disorder is not the only solution. The most suitable treatment is suggested only after the diagnosis, once the psychiatrist ascertains the patient’s level of bipolarity. Various treatments for bipolar disorder include:

  • Medications
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Psychotherapy
  • Electro-Convulsive Therapy
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation