Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a serious brain disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. It affects 2.3 million adult Americans, which is about 1.2 percent of the population, and can run in families.

The disorder affects men and women equally. Bipolar disorder is characterized by episodes of mania and depression that can last from days to months. Bipolar disorder is a chronic and generally life-long condition with recurring episodes that often begin in adolescence or early adulthood, and occasionally even in children.

It generally requires lifelong treatment, and recovery between episodes is often poor. Generally, those who suffer from bipolar disorder have symptoms of both mania and depression (sometimes at the same time).

What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Mania is the word that describes the activated phase of bipolar disorder. The symptoms of mania may include:

  • either an elated, happy mood or an irritable, angry, unpleasant mood
  • increased activity or energy
  • more thoughts and faster thinking than normal
  • increased talking, more rapid speech than normal
  • ambitious, often grandiose, plans
  • poor judgement
  • increased sexual interest and activity
  • decreased sleep and decreased need for sleep

Depression is the other phase of bipolar disorder. The symptoms of depression may include:

  • depressed or apathetic mood
  • decreased activity and energy
  • restlessness and irritability
  • fewer thoughts than usual and slowed thinking
  • less talking and slowed speech
  • less interest or participation in, and less enjoyment of activities normally enjoyed
  • decreased sexual interest and activity
  • hopeless and helpless feelings
  • feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • pessimistic outlook
  • thoughts of suicide
  • change in appetite (either eating more or eating less)
  • change in sleep patterns (either sleeping more or sleeping less)