Learn About Bipolar Disorder

What is the definition of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition in which a person has wide or extreme swings in their mood. Periods of feeling sad and depressed may alternate with periods of intense excitement and activity or being cross or irritable.

Bipolar disorder
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What are the alternative names for Bipolar Disorder?

Manic depression; Bipolar affective disorder; Mood disorder - bipolar; Manic depressive disorder

What are the causes of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. It most often starts between ages 15 and 25. The exact cause is not known, but it occurs more often in relatives of people with bipolar disorder.

In most people with bipolar disorder, there is no clear cause for the periods (episodes) of extreme happiness and high activity or energy (mania) or depression and low activity or energy (depression). The following may trigger a manic episode:

  • Childbirth
  • Medicines, such as antidepressants or steroids
  • Periods of not being able to sleep (insomnia)
  • Recreational drug use
What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

The manic phase may last from days to months. It may include these symptoms:

  • Easily distracted
  • Excess involvement in activities
  • Little need for sleep
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor temper control
  • Lack of self-control and reckless behavior, such as drinking or using drugs in excess, having increased and risky sex, gambling, and spending or giving away a lot of money
  • Very irritable mood, racing thoughts, talking a lot, and false beliefs about self or abilities
  • Rapid speech
  • Concerns about things that are not true (delusions)

The depressive episode may include these symptoms:

  • Daily low mood or sadness
  • Problems concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Eating problems such as loss of appetite and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or guilt
  • Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Trouble getting to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Pulling away from friends or activities that were once enjoyed

People with bipolar disorder are at high risk for suicide. They may use alcohol or other substances. This can make the bipolar symptoms worse and increase the risk for suicide.

Episodes of depression are more common than episodes of mania. The pattern is not the same in all people with bipolar disorder:

  • Depression and mania symptoms may occur together. This is called a mixed state.
  • Symptoms may also occur right after each other. This is called rapid cycling.
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What are the current treatments for Bipolar Disorder?

The main goal of treatment is to:

  • Make the episodes less frequent and severe
  • Help you function well and enjoy your life at home and at work
  • Prevent self-injury and suicide

MEDICINES

Medicines are a key part of treating bipolar disorder. Most often, the first medicines used are called mood stabilizers. They help you avoid mood swings and extreme changes in activity and energy levels.

With medicines, you may begin to feel better. However, for some people, symptoms of mania may feel good. Some people have side effects from the medicines. As a result, you may be tempted to stop taking your medicines or change the way you are taking them. But stopping your medicines or taking them in the wrong way can cause symptoms to come back or become much worse. DO NOT stop taking or change the dosages of your medicines. Talk with your provider if you have questions about your medicines.

Ask family members or friends to help you take medicines the right way. This means taking the right dose at the right time. They can also help make sure that episodes of mania and depression are treated as soon as possible.

If mood stabilizers do not help, your provider may suggest other medicines, such as antipsychotics or antidepressants.

You will need regular visits with a psychiatrist to talk about your medicines and their possible side effects. Blood tests are often needed, too.

OTHER TREATMENTS

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be used to treat the manic or depressive phase if it does not respond to medicine.

People who are in the middle of a severe manic or depressive episode may need to stay in a hospital until they are stable and their behavior is under control.

SUPPORT PROGRAMS AND TALK THERAPY

Joining a support group may help you and your loved ones. Involving family members and caregivers in your treatment may help reduce the chance of symptoms returning.

Important skills you may learn at such programs include how to:

  • Cope with symptoms that continue even while you are taking medicines
  • Get enough sleep and stay away from recreational drugs
  • Take medicines the right way and manage side effects
  • Watch for the return of symptoms, and know what to do when they return
  • Find out what triggers the episodes and avoid these triggers

Talk therapy with a mental health provider may be helpful for people with bipolar disorder.

Who are the top Bipolar Disorder Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
13
conditions

Biomedical Research Center In Epidemiology And Public Health Network

ES 

Eduard Vieta is in Spain. Vieta is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. He is also highly rated in 13 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, Schizophrenia, and Cyclothymic Disorder.

Elite
Highly rated in
2
conditions
Psychiatry

1701 Trinity Street 
Austin, TX 78712

Stephen Strakowski is a Psychiatrist in Austin, Texas. Dr. Strakowski has been practicing medicine for over 34 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. He is also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He is licensed to treat patients in Ohio and Texas. Dr. Strakowski is currently accepting new patients.

 
 
 
 
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Elite
Highly rated in
5
conditions
Psychiatry

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital

3811 O'hara St 
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Boris Birmaher is a Psychiatrist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dr. Birmaher has been practicing medicine for over 47 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Bipolar Disorder. He is also highly rated in 5 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Bipolar Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He is licensed to treat patients in Pennsylvania. Dr. Birmaher is currently accepting new patients.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Bipolar Disorder?

Periods of depression or mania return in most people, even with treatment. People may also have issues with alcohol or drug use. They may also have problems with relationships, school, work, and finances.

Suicide is a very real risk during both mania and depression. People with bipolar disorder who think or talk about suicide need emergency attention right away.

When should I contact a medical professional for Bipolar Disorder?

Seek help right way if you:

  • Have symptoms of mania
  • Feel the urge to hurt yourself or others
  • Feel hopeless, scared, or overwhelmed
  • See things that are not really there
  • Feel you cannot leave the house
  • Are not able to care for yourself

Call the treating provider if:

  • Symptoms are getting worse
  • You have side effects from medicines
  • You are not taking medicine the right way
What are the latest Bipolar Disorder Clinical Trials?
Pharmacogenetic Supported Prescribing in Kids
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The Impact of Systemic Antidepressant Treatments in Early Stage on Neurocognitive Function of Euthymic Patients With Bipolar Depression
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Acute-Onset Psychosis Following Prolonged Hospitalization for COVID-19 Pneumonia.
Hypnotic and Melatonin/Melatonin-Receptor Agonist Treatment in Bipolar Disorder: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.
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Serum levels of olanzapine are associated with acute cognitive effects in bipolar disorder.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : January 25, 2020
Published By : Ryan James Kimmel, MD, Medical Director of Hospital Psychiatry at the University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Internal review and update on 06/03/2021 by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

American Psychiatric Association. Bipolar and related disorders. In: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing; 2013:123-154.

Perlis RH, Ostacher MJ. Bipolar disorder. In: Stern TA, Fava M, Wilens TE, Rosenbaum JF, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 30.