What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar is a recognized, treatable mental illness with recognizable symptoms. Bipolar disorder symptoms can be managed, but bipolar disorder as an illness is incurable.

Bipolar is a mood disorder. A mood disorder causes the sufferer to experience intense, prolonged emotions that negatively affect their mental well-being, physical health, relationships, and behavior.

Bipolar Disorder does not discriminate. Bipolar affects people of all ages, ethnic groups, and social classes. Bipolar affects both sexes. According to ourworlddata.org, “Globally, an estimated 46 million people in the world had bipolar disorder in 2017, with 52 and 48 percent being female and male, respectively. In almost all countries women are more likely to experience bipolar disorder than men.”

Men and women experience bipolar disorder differently. Men tend to begin their illness with a manic episode. Women tend to begin with a depressive episode. Women are more likely to experience mixed mania, depressive episodes, and rapid cycling than men.

The peak onset of bipolar disorder is between the ages of 20 and 40. This is termed late-onset bipolar disorder. However, children and teens can be affected by bipolar disorder as well. This is termed early-onset bipolar disorder.

There appears to be a genetic link to bipolar disorder and the illness seems to run in families.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM V) has identified four distinct types of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar 1 Disorder, formerly called manic depression, is experienced by extreme mood highs, called mania, that last a week or more, or end in hospitalization, and extreme mood lows, called depression, that last two weeks or more. Hypomania and mixed states may also occur in bipolar 1 disorder.

Bipolar II Disorder, is experienced by one or more depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes. Several research studies have found that bipolar II was more common in women than men.

Cyclothymic Disorder is experienced by elevated mood states similar to mania and hypomania couple with long-lasting depressive states that can span as long as two years. The stark difference between a cyclothymic disorder and bipolar 1 and bipolar II is that the symptoms are not as severe.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders include symptoms that do match the criteria for the other forms of bipolar disorder.

The symptoms of mania may include, but are not limited to extreme optimism, euphoria, and feelings of grandeur; rapid, racing thoughts and hyperactivity; rapid speech, a decreased need for sleep; increased irritability; impulsiveness and possibly reckless behavior.

The symptoms of Hypomania are the same as mania but not as severe

The symptoms of depression may include but are not limited to feelings of hopelessness, changes in eating patterns, disturbed sleep, constant tiredness, an inability to have fun, and thoughts of death or suicide.

The symptoms of mixed sates are when the symptoms of depression and mania or hypomania are present together.

The symptoms of rapid cycling are four or more mood swings (episodes) within a twelve-month period. An episode may consist of depression, mania, hypomania, or a condition known as a mixed state in which depression and mania are co-occurring.