What Is Bipolar Disorder?
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Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depressive disorder or manic depression, is a serious mental illness. It’s a disorder that can lead to risky behavior, damaged relationships and careers, and even suicidal tendencies if it’s not treated.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme changes in mood, from mania to depression. Between these mood episodes, a person with bipolar disorder may experience normal moods.
“Manic” describes an increasingly restless, energetic, talkative, reckless, powerful, euphoric period. Lavish spending sprees or impulsive risky sex can occur. Then, at some point, this high-flying mood can spiral into something darker — irritation, confusion, anger, feeling trapped.
“Depression” describes the opposite mood — sadness, crying, sense of worthlessness, loss of energy, loss of pleasure, sleep problems.
But because the pattern of highs and lows varies for each person, bipolar disorder is a complex disease to diagnose. For some people, mania or depression can last for weeks or months, (and rarely, even years). For other people, bipolar disorder takes the form of frequent and dramatic mood episodes.
Manic periods, experts say, can be very productive. People going through a manic period can think things are going great. The danger comes, though, when the mania grows worse. Changes can be dramatic and marked by reckless behavior, sexual promiscuity, sexual risks, and financial irresponsibility.
The depressed phases can be equally dangerous. A person may have frequent thoughts of suicide.