Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms and Treatments

Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms and Treatments

Bipolar disorder, also identified as manic depression, is a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behavior. Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one severe to another.

People with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of:

  • depression – feeling very low and lethargic
  • mania – feeling very high and overactive (less harsh mania is known as hypomania)

Symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on which mood you’re experiencing. Unlike plain mood swings, each tremendous episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer), and some people may not experience a “normal” mood very frequently.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

In bipolar disorder, the dramatic episodes of high and low moods do not follow a set pattern. Someone may suffer the same mood state (depressed or manic) several times before switching to the opposite mood. These episodes can happen over a period of weeks, months, and sometimes even years.

How severe it gets differs from person to person and can also amend over time, becoming more or less severe.

Symptoms of mania (“the highs”):

  • Excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement
  • Sudden changes from being joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile
  • Rapid speech and poor concentration
  • Increased energy and less need for sleep
  • Making grand and unrealistic plans
  • Showing poor judgment
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

During depressive periods (“the lows”), a person with bipolar disorder may have:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite changes that make them lose or gain weight
  • Attempting suicide

What causes bipolar disorder?

The accurate cause of bipolar disorder is unidentified, although it’s believed a number of things can trigger an episode. Tremendous stress, overwhelming troubles and life-changing events are thought to contribute, as well as genetic and chemical factors.

Who’s affected?

Bipolar disorder is quite familiar and one in every 100 adults will be diagnosed with the situation at some point in their life. Bipolar disorder can happen at any age, although it frequently develops between the ages of 15 and 19 and rarely develops after 40. Men and women from all backgrounds are similarly likely to grow bipolar disorder.

The mold of mood swings in bipolar disorder varies widely between people. For example, some people only have a couple of bipolar episodes in their lifetime and are stable in between, while others have many episodes.

Men and women are equally likely to get it. Women are somewhat more likely than men to go through “rapid cycling,” which is having four or more distinct mood episodes within a year. Women also tend to spend more time depressed than men with bipolar disorder.

What Are the Treatments for Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder can be treated. It’s a long-term situation that needs ongoing care.

Medication is the key treatment, generally involving “mood stabilizers” such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), lamotrigine (Lamictal), lithium, or valproate (Depakote). Sometimes antipsychotic drugs are also used such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), lurasidone (Latuda) and cariprazine (Vraylar)), as well as antidepressants. Combinations of medicines are often used. Psychotherapy, or “talk therapy,” is often recommended, too.

People who have four or more mood episodes in a year, or who also have drug or alcohol problems, can have forms of the illness that are much harder to treat.



Although bipolar disorder is a disruptive, long-term condition, you can keep your moods in check by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).