Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include cycling of moods associated with extreme emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Persons that struggle with mood instability may experience intense feelings of sadness, helplessness, or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. However, when mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), the sufferer may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable or creative. Mood instability can affect the way in which the sufferer engages and relates to others, process information, behavior, judgment, eating/sleeping patterns, energy level, etc.
Bipolar disorder is more than just a mood disorder; it’s a complex illness that manifests through several different symptoms. Each case of bipolar disorder can differ between people, making it more difficult to diagnose than other mental health illnesses.
There are many different types of bipolar related disorders. The most prevalent types of the disorder are bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. Each type presents its own set of symptoms, but is generally characterized by some degree of mood swings.