Definition:

A mood disorder in which manic episodes alternate with periods of depression, usually with relatively normal periods in between.
Gen Psych, Chapter 12, Pg. 390

People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called "mood episodes." Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person’s usual mood and behavior. An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. People with bipolar disorder also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode.
Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms

Bipolar disorder is divided into several subtypes. Each has a different pattern of symptoms. Types of bipolar disorder include:
  • Bipolar I disorder. Mood swings with bipolar I cause significant difficulty in your job, school or relationships. Manic episodes can be severe and dangerous.
  • Bipolar II disorder. Bipolar II is less severe than bipolar I. You may have an elevated mood, irritability and some changes in your functioning, but generally you can carry on with your normal daily routine. Instead of full-blown mania, you have hypomania — a less severe form of mania. In bipolar II, periods of depression typically last longer than periods of hypomania.

  • Cyclothymic disorder. Cyclothymic disorder, also known as cyclothymia, is a mild form of bipolar disorder. With cyclothymia, hypomania and depression can be disruptive, but the highs and lows are not as severe as they are with other types of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Disorder

Examples:

A person who is bipolar might impulsively quit a job, charge up huge amounts on credit cards, or feel rested after sleeping two hours. During a depressive episode, the same person might be too tired to get out of bed and full of self-loathing and hopelessness over being unemployed and in debt.
Bipolar Disorder

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Analogies:

"Bipolar disorder feels like I have been thrown into the ocean far from shore, amidst some floating debris, wood scraps etc., given a hammer and a few nails...and then I am expected to somehow build a boat to get myself back to land."

"Being bipolar is like riding a roller coaster blindfolded, it's feeling a half step out of sync with the rest of the world. it's never feeling secure in making plans, or promises because you have no idea what your mood will be , and know that more than half of the time your mood will make you bad, hostile, or even dangerous company."
Bipolar Disorder


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