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  • Christine

What Is Bipolar Disorder

It is not uncommon to be diagnosed with one or more mental illnesses before receiving the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
Becoming diagnosed with bipolar disorder can be like putting puzzle pieces together.

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by extreme highs and lows. These drastic moods are called hypomania/mania and depression. 4.4% of the U.S. population will experience this condition in their lifetime. Everyone has a unique experience and diagnosis needs to be assessed by a doctor. The significant shifts in one's mood and energy level will be noted during diagnosis. When hypomanic or manic, one's energy level is extremely high and when depressed it may be so low that it may be hard to get out of bed. Minor ups and downs of life are not the same as the extreme moods of bipolar disorder. There are two types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II. Bipolar disorder can be triggered by lack of sleep and high levels of stress caused by work related issues, school or in the social realm. Below you will find descriptions of mania, hypomania and depression as well as information on two forms of bipolar.

Mania: Extreme "highs" in mood. In this state of euphoria one may think all in their life is really great, including themselves and their thinking when in actuality it is not. Thoughts are coming rapid fire and are not always one's best thoughts, although some people experience a boost in creativity when manic. Thinking will become very disorganized and possibly delusional. The individual experiencing mania may not believe anything is wrong as they can be very busy and feel productive although others will notice the extreme mood. Lack of sleep can be a trigger as well as a symptom of mania. One may feel so busy and may also not have an appetite and may eat very little. A person experiencing mania may stay awake for days on end or sleep much less. Mania in some cases can cause paranoia and hallucinations. This mood episode can last weeks. Many people experience mania during the change in seasons, in particularly in spring. All of these symptoms can be very disruptive to daily life.

Hypomania: This is a milder form of mania and can last for a shorter time period. The length can vary and typically it only lasts a few days. It looks like, periods of frantic overactivity and high energy. This mood causes less disruption to one's daily activities than mania.

Depression: One will experience a very low mood, lack of motivation, worthlessness, hopelessness and decreased energy. It may include copious sadness and tears. Sleep may be excessive. One's personal engagements might continuously be canceled leading to isolation. These things can lead to significant impairment in daily living. Some individuals experience suicidal thoughts.

Bipolar I: An individual with bipolar I has experienced at least one manic episode. They also most likely experience depression as well, the highs and lows. Bipolar I has more severe highs, thus mania vs. hypomania.

Bipolar II: It involves at least one depressive episode lasting at least two weeks and at least one hypomanic episode lasting at least four days.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or mania or both it is important to see a doctor. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts and you live in the U.S. dial or text 988, help if available 24/7. If you live outside of the U.S. find a suicide prevention hotline in your area.

Take good care,


Be kind for everyone you meet is facing a hard battle. -- Plato


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