What Is Bipolar?

By jolene
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
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Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder where there are periods of depression and an abnormally elevated mood. When the elevated mood is severe, it is known as mania while a less severe version is known as hypomania. This disorder is a common, persistent, and severe mental illness as it results in lifelong challenges. Bipolar can be divided in two subtypes: bipolar I, where there must be at least one prominent mania not necessarily accompanied by a depressive episode and bipolar II, where there are depressive episodes and hypomanias (less prominent manic episodes).

The risk of suicide among patients with bipolar disorder is higher compared to the normal population. Self-harm has been estimated to occur in 30% to 40% of bipolar patients. Other commonly associated issues with bipolar disorder include substance abuse and anxiety disorders.

1. Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of mania include decreased need for sleep, grandiosity (inflated self-esteem), pressured speech or talkativeness, irresponsibility (seeks pleasure without thought of consequences), thought disturbances (flight of ideas), and increased level of goal-focused activity. The changes or symptoms are often visible to others. In the depressive phase, five or more of the symptoms are required with at least one being loss of pleasure or depressed mood. These must be present for at least more than two weeks. The symptoms are depressed mood, fatigue, anhedonia (loss of interest or inability to feel pleasure), sleep disturbances, weight changes, excessive guilt or feelings of worthlessness, decreased concentration, agitation or psychomotor retardation, and suicidal ideations. These symptoms should cause significant impairment if they are not due to other medical illnesses or substance abuse.


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