What is Bipolar Disorder?

by Elia Strange



There is a particular kind of pain, elation, loneliness, and terror involved in this kind of madness.
When you’re high it’s tremendous. The ideas and feelings are fast and frequent like shooting stars and you follow them until you find better and brighter ones.

Shyness goes, the right words and gestures are suddenly there, the power to seduce and captivate others a felt certainty. There are interests found in uninteresting people.
Sensuality is pervasive and the desire to seduce and be seduced irresistible. Feelings of ease, intensity, power, well-being, financial omnipotence, and euphoria now pervade one’s marrow.

But, somewhere, this changes. The fast ideas are far too fast and there are far too many; overwhelming confusion replaces clarity.
Memory goes. Humour and absorption on friends’ faces are replaced by fear and concern.

Everything previously moving with the grain is now against – you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and enmeshed totally in the blackest caves of the mind.

You never knew those caves were there. It will never end.

(Coodwin & Jamison, 1990, pp. 17-18)

The person describing the experience above clearly gave us a good picture of what it's like to live with a bipolar mood disorder.
Bipolar disorder has two distinct phases: you might feel absolutely euphoric and enthusiastic, - and this is called ‘a period of mania’; and you can feel extremely depressed and even suicidal, - and this is called ‘a period of depression’.

When you are in the ‘manic’ phase, you can feel tremendous energy and vibrancy, your self-esteem can become very high, and you can have lots of positive ideas and feel very confident.

When you are in ‘depression mode’, you can have feelings of despair and fear, you might doubt yourself very much, and you might also have suicidal thoughts. These changes between the two phases is a classic manifestation of bipolar mood disorder.

Bipolar disorder is quite common. About 1 or 2 in 100 people experience at least one episode of bipolar disorder at sometime in their lives.

If you had an episode similar to the case study above, you might feel that you need to get diagnosed and receive treatment. Don’t rush though. Read here first how bipolar disorder is diagnosed.

Men and women equally develop this disorder. In most people bipolar disorder starts in late adolescence or early adulthood.
This disorder can create many problems in the affected people’s lives: there might be more problems at work and in their relationships, because the symptoms of this disorder can be present in these people half the time.

So if you suffer from this disorder, you might experience both phases – ‘mania’ and ‘depression’ at least once a week. However, as I said earlier, many people may experience these phases once or several times throughout their lifetimes.

But what severity does it need to be diagnosed with this condition? First, have a look at the symptoms of bipolar disorder here. If you think you, or someone you are concerned about, have some of these symptoms, then read about how the diagnosis is usually made.

Related Articles:

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

How is Bipolar Disorder diagnosed

Depression Test: How depressed are you? (Test)

How well do you know yourself? (Quiz)

7 Reasons for our unhappiness

... or go to:

Archives of all Articles

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Coping with Stress (Home Page)

'What is Bipolar Disorder' Article References:
Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2008). Abnormal Psychology. (4th ed). Butcher, J.N., Mineka, S., Hooley, J.M. (2007). Abnormal Psycholgy. (13th ed.)Davidson, G.C., Neale, J.M., & Kring, A.M. (2004) Abnormal Psychology. (9th ed.)

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