Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric illness which refers to a person's mood swings from mania to depression. It is characterized by chronic episodes of depression, mania and/or mixed states. At first, bipolar disorder may be mistaken as another problem other than mental illness. It may also appear as alcohol or substance abuse, or poor performance in school or at work. Bipolar disorder is often not identified as a psychological problem because of its episodic behavior. For this reason, people who are suffering from this abnormality may suffer for years without relief. People with bipolar disorder have different patterns of mood cycles that are specific to each of them. The patterns become predictable once they are recognized. The different mood states associated with bipolar disorder are depression, hypomania and mania.
There are various types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar I disorder is described as a condition wherein a patient experiences periods of mania alternating with periods of depression wherein patients experience simultaneous occurrence of manic and depressive symptoms called mixed states. Bipolar II disorder refers to repeated episodes of depression and a milder bipolar disorder symptom called hypomania. In this bipolar disorder symptom, a patient's ability to function to the fullest is not impaired, unlike in the case of full-blown manic episodes. Episodes of the hypomania type of bipolar disorder symptom are not complicated by psychosis-related symptoms. Hypomania may make the affected person experience pleasant feelings. Even when relatives become aware of the bipolar disorder symptoms that the patient is displaying, he will often deny that anything is wrong.
People who are suffering from the bipolar disorder symptoms repeatedly experience dramatic mood swings either within a day of over several months. These bipolar disorder symptoms, which usually appear in young adulthood, can cause the patients to suffer from the disorder throughout their lives.
Bipolar disorder symptoms for the manic phase may include severe mood changes, exaggerated self-esteem, increased energy levels, decreased need for sleep, increased talking, distractibility, hypersexuality, increased activity and excessive involvement in risky behaviors. Other bipolar disorder symptoms of this phase include high physical and mental energy and the incapability of the person affected to perceive that the moods and behaviors are abnormal. A person suffering from bipolar disorder symptoms of the manic phase seldom seek help because they feel good about what they are doing and don't recognized that anything is wrong.
The depressive phase include the following bipolar disorder symptoms: persistent sadness or irritability, loss of interest in certain activities, substantial changes in eating habits, sleeping problems, physical agitation, loss of vitality, and social withdrawal. Other bipolar disorder symptoms of the depressive phase include drug or alcohol use and suicidal attempts. People who are in the depressive phase are more likely to seek help than during the manic phase. It is because they are aware that the normalcy in their lives are disrupted by the bipolar disorder symptoms they are experiencing. There are those who don't bother looking for help during the depression stage due to energy-deficiency and hopelessness.