Written by Staff

May 1, 2023


What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition associated with mood. It commonly falls under the category of mood disorders characterized by severe fluctuations in mood and changes in energy, thinking, sleep, and behaviors. People with bipolar disorder can have periods in which they feel overly happy and energized, while in the other episode, they feel sad, hopeless, and sluggish. It is mostly referred to as a pole-apart disorder where one end is the manic episode while the other is the depressive episode.

The word mania is defined as the period of intense feeling of excitement and confidence, involving the feeling of irritability, impulsiveness, and reckless decision-making. Mania is a period of excitability and euphoria, while the depressive episode is associated with sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. These episodes of mood swings rarely occur or occur multiple times a year. Most people experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, while others may not experience anything at all. These mood changes can hugely impact all aspects of life – from work and relationships to daily activities and interests.

Around 1 in 100 people worldwide is affected by bipolar disorder, and it is a condition that can be difficult to manage. However, with the right treatment, people with bipolar disorder can lead full and happy lives.

Symptoms of Bipolar

Mania and Hypomania 
Mania and hypomania are two distinct episodes having similar symptoms. Mania is characterized as the severe than hypomania and causes more noticeable problems at work, school, and social activities. It can trigger psychosis and may require hospitalization. Mania and hypomania have similar symptoms, such as:

  • Abnormally upbeat, jumpy, or wired
  • Increased activity, energy, or agitation
  • Overinflated feelings of happiness and confidence (euphoria)
  • A reduced requirement for sleep
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Thoughts that are going a million miles per hour
  • Distractibility
  • Making poor choices, such as spontaneous shopping sprees, risky sexual exploration, or ill-advised financial investments.

Major Depressive Episode 
The major depressive episode includes symptoms of noticeable difficulty in day-to-day activities such as work, school, and social activities such as:

  • Sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, and crying
  • Significant decrease or absence of interest in nearly all formerly enjoyable activities
  • A substantial change in body mass index (BMI), including significant weight loss or gain or a decrease or increase in appetite, even when not dieting
  • Not gaining weight as predicted can be an indication of depression in kids
  • Insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Restlessness or a lack of motivation
  • Weakness or exhaustion
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate or excessive guilt
  • Impairment in cognitive abilities, inability to focus, or lack of resolve to make a choice
  • Being suicidal, contemplating suicide, or making a suicide attempt

Type of Bipolar 

  • Bipolar I disorder. This type of bipolar contains one episode of a manic episode that hypomanic or major depressive episodes may precede.
  • Bipolar II disorder. This type contains at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode. However, a complete episode of mania hasn’t ever been reported.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder. It is often diagnosed after a long series of episodes of hypomania and depressive episodes over the time of 2 years.


Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition that calls for ongoing care and attention. Treating bipolar disorder as early as possible has been shown to significantly impact the severity of symptoms. But this treatment often requires a multifaceted approach, including psychological interventions and medication, to effectively manage behavioral symptoms and compensate for neurological deficits.

  • Psychopharmacological interventions. To manage bipolar, the first in-hand option is medication. It is typically the first course of action that is taken in the bipolar intervention. Doctors generally prescribe mood stabilizers such as carbamazepine, lithium, antipsychotic drugs, anti-depressants, and anti-anxiety medication to manage the symptoms. A combination of these medications is utilized to manage the symptoms such as manic or depressive episodes and psychosis.
  • Psychological Intervention. The supportive intervention that is used in bipolar is the psychological intervention that helps the patient to manage or maintain the basic activities and keep up with their normal routine. Therapy is meant to aid the client in mastering control over their feelings and thoughts and improving their ability to function in daily life. Psychoeducation is one of the most common treatments for bipolar disorder since it raises awareness and teaches caretakers how to better assist their patients. Negative thoughts, routines, or feelings can be replaced with healthier ones with the use of cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a great resource for stress management since it lets you zero in on the causes of your anxiety and learn how to control them. The primary goal of cognitive behavioral therapy is to improve one’s functioning level. Similarly, interpersonal therapy is employed, predicated on the concept that adhering to a regular schedule—including, but not limited to, the times one sleeps and eats—can aid in maintaining a steady mood and establishing order in one’s daily activities.

To conclude

Extreme shifts in mood are a hallmark of bipolar disorder. These swings can range from periods of intense energy and happiness, known as mania, to periods of deep depression. Bipolar disorder can be a very debilitating illness, but there are treatments available that can help people manage their symptoms.

Although bipolar disorder is sometimes spoken about in negative terms, it is important to remember that there are also periods of mania, which can be a time of great creativity and productivity. People with bipolar disorder can lead very successful and fulfilling lives if they receive the right treatment. If you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, there is help available. There are many resources that can provide support and information about the illness.

When to seek emergency help?

Immediately call 911 or your local emergency number if you or someone you know is thinking about self-harm, suicide, or homicide or is in psychiatric distress. If you are with someone thinking about hurting themselves, stay with the person to keep them safe until emergency services arrive at your location.

  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (Call or Text 988)
  • Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255, Press 1 to talk)
  • Text Hello to 741741

Use the following telephone number for non-emergency services in LA County (the entry point for mental health services with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health).

If you are interested in a psychological evaluation by one of our psychologists at Vienna Psychological Group, book your free 30-minute consultation here.

To learn more about mental health and forensic psychology, check out our blog library here and our podcast, The Forensic Psychologist Podcast, hosted by Dr. Vienna on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

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This blog aims to answer general questions and assist readers in better understanding bipolar disorder. This blog is not intended to provide medical, psychiatric, or legal advice.


Grande, I., Berk, M., Birmaher, B., & Vieta, E. (2016). Bipolar disorder. The Lancet, 387(10027), 1561-1572.

Miklowitz, D. J., & Johnson, S. L. (2008). Bipolar disorder. John Wiley & Sons Inc.

Severus, E., & Bauer, M. (2013). Diagnosing bipolar disorders in DSM-5. International journal of bipolar disorders, 1(1), 1-3.


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