What is Bipolar disorder?-
Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness) is a mood disorder, which means that the symptoms are disturbances or abnormalities of mood. Major depression is a more common illness, the symptoms of which are mainly those of 'low' mood. Bipolar disorder involves episodes of both serious mania and depression. The person's mood swings from excessively 'high' and irritable, to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between. Different from normal mood states of happiness and sadness, symptoms of manic-depressive illness can be severe and life threatening. However, because many artists, musicians and writers have suffered from bipolar illness, the effect of the illness has sometimes been trivialised, and regarded in some way as beneficial for artistic creativity. In fact, for those afflicted with the illness, it is extremely distressing and disruptive.
What are some of the symptoms?
Usually the illness appears suddenly (sometimes precipitated by life stresses), although onset may be gradual. Episodes of mania, which can last from days to weeks or months, are generally briefer than episodes of depression. It typically emerges in adolescence or early adulthood, but may begin in childhood.
Without treatment, symptoms usually become more severe, unpleasant and disruptive, and can lead to suicide in about 20 percent of cases.
Some people cycle either rapidly or more slowly from one mood to the other, while others experience ‘normal’ moods (mixed state) between episodes. Some people go for years without a recurrence, while others suffer from increasingly frequent episodes. As in depression, a small percentage suffer impaired mood chronically.