Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).
When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly.
Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year. While most people will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some may not experience any.
Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, you can manage your mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).
There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. They may include mania or hypomania and depression. Symptoms can cause unpredictable changes in mood and behavior, resulting in significant distress and difficulty in life.
- Bipolar I disorder: You’ve had at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania may trigger a break from reality (psychosis).
- Bipolar II disorder: You’ve had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but you’ve never had a manic episode.
- Cyclothymic disorder: You’ve had at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression).
- Other types: These include, for example, bipolar and related disorders induced by certain drugs or alcohol or due to a medical condition, such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke.
Bipolar II disorder is not a milder form of bipolar I disorder, but a separate diagnosis. While the manic episodes of bipolar I disorder can be severe and dangerous, individuals with bipolar II disorder can be depressed for longer periods, which can cause significant impairment.
Although bipolar disorder can occur at any age, typically it’s diagnosed in the teenage years or early 20s. Symptoms can vary from person to person, and symptoms may vary over time.
Other features of bipolar disorder
Signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II disorders may include other features, such as anxious distress, melancholy, psychosis or others. The timing of symptoms may include diagnostic labels such as mixed or rapid cycling. In addition, bipolar symptoms may occur during pregnancy or change with the seasons.
Dr. Laura Jansons
Dr. Jansons is in private practice in Arlington Heights, Illinois. She provides neuropsychological assessment for adults and children and is growing her neuorotherapy and neurofeedback clinic. She has been providing direct therapy, assessment, professional training, and scholarly contributions in her field since 1990.
Dr. Jansons began her career at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology and master’s degree in Human Developmental Counseling. Her doctorate is from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and she completed her Neuropsychology Certificate Training at Fielding Graduate University. She is a Board-Certified Fellow of the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology. She is also Board Certified in Neurofeedback with the Board Certification International Alliance (BCIA).
Dr. Jansons’ research interests are in Large Scale Brain Systems, neural network dynamics, and cerebellar and vertically organized brain functioning. She is a co-partner in many projects including a start-up company for developing a web portal for patients and advanced clinicians, and she participates in the technical development of custom brain entertainment therapies. She is also a performing musician.