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Bipolar is a disorder associated with episodes of mood swings. A person with bipolar is likely to experience depressive lows ranging to emotional highs technically referred to as mania or hypomania. When the patient becomes depressed, s/he may feel disillusioned and sad thus losing interest in even pleasurable activities. On the other hand, when the mood shifts to mania or hypomania, s/he feels energized, unusually irritable, or extremely happy (euphoric). These mood swings can interfere with the patient’s sleeping patterns, energy levels, sound judgement, activity or behavior. These episodes may appear a few times or regularly in a year.


At a glance,

  • Formerly referred to as manic depression
  • The exact cause is unknown but a combination of a change in brain structure, genetic and environmental factors may play a role
  • It is incurable, though treatment can help
  • It is chronic
  • A medical diagnosis is required
  • Lab tests and imaging are not needed to help in diagnosis
  • Most people with bipolar disorder may show emotional symptoms while some may not show any
  • Symptoms vary depending on the type of bipolar that one is suffering from.
  • Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I
  • Although bipolar can be diagnosed at any age, it is common during teenage years (early 20s)
  • It is a life-long condition but it can be managed by following a treatment plan.
  • Is usually treated through medications and psychotherapy- psychological counselling.



Symptoms of bipolar can elicit changes in one’s mood and behavior. They however differ depending on the type of bipolar that one is suffering from.  The various types of bipolar and their respective symptoms include:

  1. Bipolar I disorder

The patient has had at least one manic episode that may be followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. In some special cases, mania may make the patient escape from reality-a condition known as psychosis.

  1. Bipolar II disorder

The patient has had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode but no manic episodes.

  1. Cyclothymic disorder

It is characterized by many episodes of hypomania during childhood or teenage years and periods of depressive symptoms that are less severe compared to a major depression.


Mania and hypomania are two different episodes even though they elicit similar symptoms.

Mania tends to be more severe than hypomania and it can cause serious problems at work, school or in social relationships.

Mania can easily trigger psychosis- a break from reality and normally requires medical attention.

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Both manic and hypomanic episodes include these symptoms:

Increased activity and energy levels

Euphoria- extreme happiness, excitement or self confidence

Insomnia- lack of sleep

Unusual talkativeness

Poor judgement such as exposing oneself to sexual risks or being duped into foolish investments


A major depressive episode encompasses symptoms that can lead to noticeable difficulties at work, school or home and in social relationships.

It can elicit the following symptoms:

Feeling extremely sad, disillusioned or empty

Significant weight loss or weight gain

Loss of interest in pleasurable activities


Extreme fatigue


Suicidal ideation- thinking about, planning or attempting suicide

Insomnia (lack of sleep) or oversleeping










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