What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, which is also sometimes called manic depression, is a mental health disorder that causes unusual and extreme shifts in mood, energy levels, and ability to carry out normal daily activities. A patient’s mood may swing from very elated and energized (manic) to very sad and hopeless (depressive).

There are 4 main classifications of bipolar disorder including Bipolar I, which is defined by manic episodes that last for at least 7 days or by manic symptoms that require hospitalization. Depressive stages typically last for at least 2 weeks. Bipolar II disorder is characterized by patterns of depressive episodes, but the manic episodes are less extreme than in Bipolar I.

Cyclothymia is a form of bipolar where the depressive episodes last for 2 years or more with hypomanic symptoms. In cyclothymia, the symptoms do not fully meet the diagnostic requirements for a full bipolar diagnosis. In some cases, patients may not display symptoms that match the diagnostic requirements for any of the classifications detailed above, and are diagnosed with other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include, but are not limited to:

  • Extreme moods from feeling very up and excited to feeling depressed and hopeless
  • Swinging from very high energy and activity levels to very low
  • Feeling like their thoughts are racing
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Feeling like they can’t enjoy anything
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Following a thorough psychiatric evaluation, a Remedy psychiatric provider will create an individualized treatment plan for each patient with bipolar as every patient has a unique experience and specific needs to be addressed. The prescribed treatment plan will depend on the patient, the severity of the disorder, and how he or she is currently responding to therapy or medication.