Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that describes a category of mood disorders. Individuals with bipolar disorder go back and forth between periods of a very good mood (mania), irritable mood and depression. These ‘mood swings’ can be very quick, but will vary in how severe or how long they last for each person. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally and usually starts between the ages of 15 – 25.
There are two types of bipolar disorder:
1) Bipolar I Disorder: characterised by at least one manic episode and periods of major depression.
2) Bipolar II Disorder: characterised by experience periods of high energy levels and impulsiveness that are not as extreme as mania (called hypomania), and episodes of depression.
Mania refers to abnormally elevated mood and energy, which can sometimes be triggered by life changes, medications, lack of sleep or recreational drug use. If you have experienced mania you may remember being reckless, easily agitated, and experiencing an extreme increase in energy and self-esteem. You may have experienced racing thoughts and may have felt energised to do everything at once. You may have also been more likely to take risks and and felt you could stay awake for long periods without sleep.
The depressed phase of both types of bipolar disorder include the following symptoms: