Adult Bipolar Disorder
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a mood disorder that causes marked shifts in mood and energy which go way beyond “moodiness.” These shifts are called mood episodes. If severe, the illness has a profound impact on a person’s well-being and disrupts functioning and relationships. Bipolar disorder is caused by abnormalities in the structure, function or chemistry in certain brain areas. Genetic factors almost always play a role. Outside problems may precipitate an episode, but they play no role in causing the condition.
What Are the Symptoms of a Mood Episode?
The symptoms depend on the type of mood episode.
Depressive Episode. The symptoms are the same as those found in major depressive disorder. They include:
- Deep sadness
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Loss of interest in activities and relationships
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Manic or Hypomanic Episode. The symptoms may be very severe (mania) or somewhat less severe (hypomania). If you have ever experienced a manic state, you will recognize some of the following:
- Feeling elated
- Feeling invulnerable
- Feeling grandiose. (You feel that you are so special that you can achieve anything)
- Needing little sleep
- Thinking very quickly but easily losing your train of thought
- Having other people say you speak too rapidly and too loudly
- Exhibiting risky behavior, e.g., spending too freely, driving recklessly or having careless sex.
In the early stages of hypomania, others may see you as magnetic and interesting. A full-blown manic state may lead to arrest or hospitalization.
Cyclothymic Disorder. This is a condition in which the symptoms fall short of those that characterize bipolar disorder but are more severe than simple moodiness.