Health A-Z

Bipolar Disorder

Clinical Definition

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by pathological mood swings from mania to depression. There is no clear cause for the disorder, although there appears to be a genetic link, and scientists are trying to understand differences in brain development, connections and activity in affected individuals. The disorder is often treated with the mood stabilizing drug lithium, antipsychotics, antidepressants and talk therapy.

In Our Own Words

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes people to have mood symptoms that can range from depression and despair to an overly excited state of mania with inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts and increased risk taking. Not all people with bipolar disorder experience this manic state, however.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder are much more severe than the normal ups and downs of daily life and can impact a person’s decisions, job or school performance and personal relationships. People with bipolar disorder often benefit from a variety of treatments, including mood stabilizing drugs, antipsychotics, antidepressants as well as talk therapy. Individuals with the disorder are at an increased risk of death by suicide.

Symptoms and Side Effects

  • Exaggerated self-worth; grandiosity
  • Sadness
  • Fatigue
  • Being easily distracted
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