What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can cause intense mood swings:
• Sometimes you may feel extremely “up,” elated, irritable, or energized. This is called a manic episode.
• Other times you may feel “down,” sad, indifferent, or hopeless. This is called a depressive episode.
• You may have both manic and depressive symptoms together. This is called a mixed episode.
Along with the mood swings, bipolar disorder causes changes in behavior, energy levels, and activity levels.
Bipolar disorder used to be called other names, including manic depression and manic-depressive disorder.
What are the types of bipolar disorder?
There are three main types of bipolar disorder:
• Bipolar I disorder involves manic episodes that last at least 7 days or manic symptoms so severe that you need immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes are also common. Those often last at least two weeks. This type of bipolar disorder can also involve mixed episodes.
• Bipolar II disorder involves depressive episodes. But instead of full-blown manic episodes, there are episodes of hypomania. Hypomania is a less severe version of mania.
• Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, also involves hypomanic and depressive symptoms. But they are not as intense or as long-lasting as hypomanic or depressive episodes. The symptoms usually last for at least two years in adults and for one year in children and teenagers.
With any of these types, having four or more episodes of mania or depression in a year is called “rapid cycling.”
What causes bipolar disorder?
The exact cause of the bipolar disorder is unknown. Several factors likely play a role in the disorder. They include genetics, brain structure and function, and your environment.