mental health, therapy, counseling and psychology terms glossary

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder (formerly, manic depression) is a mental illness that causes extremely varied mood swings and erratic behavior. These mood swings can affect sleep and energy levels, thoughts, judgment, and actions. Mania, and the less severe Hypomania, causes an upswing of high energy, racing thoughts, talkativeness, euphoria, and risky behavior. Major depressive episodes tend to follow manic episodes – they cause hopeless and irritable moods, fatigue, indecisiveness, and problems with sleep and appetite.

There are several categories of Bipolar Disorder – Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic disorder, and other types of bipolar and related disorders. Bipolar 1 is diagnosed when the patient has manic episodes – these are severe and can have serious consequences based on action taken during the manic episodes. Individuals with Bipolar II do not experience manic episodes, but their depression periods are often much longer and can be very detrimental to everyday life. Cyclothymic disorder is diagnosed after two years of depressive symptoms and hypomania – though less severe than major depression.

Bipolar disorder is a physical condition that is generally treated with combinations of counseling and medication. It is important to obtain an accurate diagnosis from a clinical professional to ensure optimal treatment plans for successful lifelong management.

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