Bipolar Disorder: Everything You Should Know

Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness characterized by periods of severe mood abnormalities or “episodes.” Bipolar disorder impacts a person’s mood, thoughts, and actions.

Bipolar I and II are the two primary subtypes of bipolar disorders. Bipolar I disorder. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, bipolar I include bouts of extreme mania and frequent depression. Hypomania is a less severe mania associated with bipolar II disorder.


Despite the significant differences in mania, many symptoms are comparable across the two forms of bipolar disorder.

Episodes of depression

Major depressive episodes (one or more) are common in bipolar I disorder but are not always present. One or more major depressive episodes may also occur due to bipolar II disorder. Euthymia, a word used to characterize periods of emotional stability, may occur in both disorders.

Major depressive episodes frequently feature the following symptoms:

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Uncontrollable or unexplained crying
  • Severe fatigue
  • Loss of interest in activities that the patient usually finds enjoyable when they are in a state of euthymia
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 if you or a loved one is contemplating suicide for support and guidance from a qualified counselor. Call 911 if you or a loved one is in immediate danger.


Manic episodes last at least seven days. The following symptoms may accompany a manic episode:

  • A sharp increase in energy
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations or delusions.
  • A greater desire for sex
  • Less need for sleep

People going through a manic episode may act recklessly, such as engaging in unsafe sexual activity, overspending, or making snap judgments.

People sometimes believe that having a “manic episode” implies they become “maniacs.” That is untrue. It’s crucial to understand that mania does not always translate into violence or risky behaviors.


The symptoms of a hypomanic episode may be comparable to those of a manic episode, but the person won’t have much-impaired functioning. Many people with bipolar II-related hypomania enjoy their heightened energy and reduced desire for sleep.

A bout of hypomania does not progress to the point that a person requires hospitalization, as it can with a maniac, particularly if they are becoming a risk to themselves or others.

Causes for Bipolar Disorder

Although the precise origin of bipolar disorder is still unknown, heredity is thought to be a critical contributing factor. Studies of twins with a diagnosis of bipolar I in one or both of them provide some support for this. Compared to fewer than 10% of fraternal twins (who don’t share all of the same genes), bipolar disorder was discovered in 40% of identical twins (those with similar gene sets).

Neurotransmitter disorders, anomalies in brain circuitry, and environmental elements, including childhood maltreatment or trauma, are other causes.


A mental health professional must rule out other illnesses like schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, delusional disorder, schizophreniform disorder, or other specified or unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders that may share similar symptoms before diagnosing bipolar disorder (regardless of the type).

Similar to other disorders, bipolar disorder cannot be diagnosed with a physical examination, X-ray, or blood test. A person must meet a series of requirements that are the basis of the diagnosis to be considered bipolar.

A thorough diagnosis would probably entail specific testing to rule out other medical causes of the bipolar symptoms. This may include a drug test, imaging examinations (such as a brain CT scan or MRI), electroencephalograms (EEG), and a comprehensive battery of diagnostic blood tests. It would help if you tried to work closely with a healthcare team to confirm a diagnosis and discover the best course of therapy for you. A doctor will also ask you questions.


Bipolar I disorder treatment is highly customized and depends on the kinds and intensity of a person’s symptoms.

The mainstay of therapy is mood stabilizers; however other substances are also used, including:

The mainstay of treatment is mood stabilizers; however, other substances are also used, including:

  • A mood stabilizer, such as lithium
  • Anticonvulsants to stabilise mood swings.
  • Antipsychotics to treat psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations and delusions, and the more recent atypical antipsychotics, have their mood-stabilizing qualities.
  • Antidepressants (less commonly prescribed as they can trigger a manic episode)

When mania or severe depression is more severe, electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) may be used to assist.

Both Types Should Receive the Proper Treatment

Bipolar II is often referred to as “milder” than bipolar I. This is because the hypomania that manifests in bipolar II is less severe than the mania in bipolar I; however, this is not entirely correct. Hypomania is still a severe disorder that may have life-changing effects and should be carefully handled. It is true that persons with bipolar I can have more severe symptoms during mania.

Additionally, more prolonged and severe depressive episodes characterize bipolar II disorder. In actuality, bipolar II patients are less likely to resume normal functioning after an episode as time goes on.

All bipolar disorders should be treated appropriately, and you should consult with your medical team often to determine the best course of action.


Like many mental health problems, bipolar disorder is stigmatized in society, making it harder for you or a loved one to manage the illness. Know that ignorance is a significant contributor to stigma development.

Whether or not someone with bipolar experiences stigma directly, they should be aware that talking to others who are going through the same thing and seeking professional care are the best ways to manage their illness. You may also battle stigma to adapt better and understand your rights.

In children

Kids of any age may develop bipolar disorder. Parents and other caregivers must be aware of the specific symptoms; they should pay attention to how a kid behaves and feels and if there is a family history of the illness. A therapy strategy for symptom management may be better devised with a prompt diagnosis.

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