People with bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, experience extreme, abrupt “mood swings” between periods of elevated mania or depression, usually with no clear cause.

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that usually develops between the ages of 15 – 25. While the cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, it occurs most often in those with a family history of the disease.

Each mood phase may last for a period of a few days up to a few months. The elevated, manic phase of bipolar disorder includes the following symptoms:

  • Agitation or irritation
  • Inflated self-esteem (delusions of greatness, false beliefs in special abilities)
  • Little need for sleep
  • Noticeably elevated mood
  • Over-involvement in activities
  • Poor temper control
  • Reckless behavior
  • Tendency to be easily distracted

Meanwhile, the depressed phase includes the following:

  • Daily low mood
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Eating disturbances (weight loss or gain)
  • Fatigue or listlessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and/or guilt
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Persistent sadness
  • Persistent thoughts of death
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Withdrawal from activities that were once enjoyed
  • Withdrawal from friends

Mood stabilizing drugs and psychotherapy can be effective in managing and balancing bipolar disorder. If you think you or someone you know has bipolar disorder, contact us for a free psychiatric evaluation.

For more information on bipolar disorder, visit the National Institute of Mental Health.