About This Condition
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder characterized by alternating states of depression and mania that follow each other in a repeating cycle.
People with bipolar disorder may cycle through these states quickly or may experience long periods of depression or mania. Often one mood state predominates, while the other occurs only infrequently or briefly. The cause of bipolar disorder is unknown.
Symptoms of the elevated mood stage of bipolar disorder include an exaggerated sense of confidence and well-being, racing thoughts, excessive talking, distractibility, increased desire for pleasurable activity, decreased need for sleep, impulsivity, irritability, and impairment in judgment. The depressed phase includes symptoms of sadness, fatigue, pessimism, feelings of helplessness, low self-esteem, and loss of interest in life, possibly with thoughts of suicide.
Psychological counseling and sleep management is sometimes recommended. Severe cases requiring hospitalization due to rapid or pronounced mood swings might also require electroconvulsive therapy (electrical impulses applied to the brain).