Bipolar Disorder

This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that causes unusual shifts in mood, ranging from extreme highs (mania or “manic” episodes) to lows (depression or “depressive” episode).

A person who has bipolar disorder also experiences changes in their energy, thinking, behavior, and sleep. During bipolar mood episodes, it is difficult to carry out day-to-day tasks, go to work or school, and maintain relationships.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder affects millions of adults in the U.S. Most people are diagnosed with bipolar disorder in their teens or twenties, however, it can occur at any age and although the symptoms can persist, many find ways to manage their symptoms successfully. People are at a higher risk if they have a family history of bipolar disorder, experienced a traumatic event, and/or misused drugs or alcohol. Differences in brain structure and function may also play a role. If you think you may have it, tell your health care provider.

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

When a person has a manic episode, they feel overly excited, productive, and even invincible. On the other hand, when a person has a depressive episode, they feel extremely sad, hopeless, and tired. They may avoid friends, family, and participating in their usual activities. A severe manic or depressive episode may trigger psychotic symptoms, such as delusions (false beliefs) or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear). These drastic behavior changes usually cause concern among friends and family. Everyone’s experience with bipolar disorder is different, and the signs and symptoms vary:

This post originally appeared on MedLine Plus.

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