Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterized by strong shifts and sways in mood, energy levels, activity levels and the ability to perform day-to-day activities. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depressive disorder; the depressive episodes involved in bipolar disorder are one spectrum of its extreme moods swings, while the other end of the spectrum is characterized by emotional highs. People with bipolar disorder can experience symptoms of mania and depression, which are the two main characteristics of the disease. There is no single cause of bipolar disorder, yet it can be contributed to be genetic predisposition, stress and brain function and composition. There are identifiable biological and psychological differences, yet researchers have not found an entirely common link back to the disorder. Bipolar disorder falls under the DSM-5 as a mental and mood disorder. This disorder’s high and low moods change a person’s brain chemistry and their ability to think clearly, complete tasks, etc.
To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person must have experience an episode, lasting more than a few days or weeks, of mania or hypomania. It cannot be seen on a blood test or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, yet it can be found on physical examinations, interviews and lab tests as well. Bipolar disorder is managed and treated with both psychological and psychiatric services such as medication. People with bipolar disorder benefit from having a support system of their family and friends as they participate in cognitive behavioral therapy, medications like antidepressants and mood stabilizers, and other health approaches like meditation, supplements and exercise. Treatment is a lifelong process that is neither linear nor easy; more than 3.3 million American adults suffer from bipolar depression. It is typically diagnosed in the late teenager and early adult years. If not treated, it can lead to poor performance in school and jobs, damaged relationships and even self-harm that can lead to suicide.

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  • Bipolar Disorder. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2018, from