What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic depression) is a condition that results in severe mood swings and includes emotional highs (manic or hypomanic states) and lows (depressive states). During manic states one typically feels “high,” euphoric, full of energy, and even irritable. In depressive states a person will feel extremely sad, will lose interest in pleasurable activities, and feel hopeless. The changes in extreme moods will be exhausting to the individual. This is a lifelong condition that needs chronic monitoring and treatment.


The prevalence is 0.6% in the general population. Males tend to experience bipolar disorder more than females at a ratio of 1.1:1.0.

Signs and Symptoms

During a manic or hypomanic state a person may exhibit several symptoms such as inflated self-esteem or grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, be more talkative than usual or feel the pressure to keep talking, ideas seem to be all over the place, very distractible, engaging in risky behaviours (high potential for painful consequences). During a depressive episode a person will typically experience depressed mood most of the day and every day. They will also experience a loss of interest in activities that previously brought them pleasure, may experience significant weight loss when not dieting or an have a significant increase in weight. Other symptoms include insomnia or hypersomnia almost every day, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, difficulty concentrating or remembering things and making decisions, thoughts of death or suicidal thoughts.


Typically this condition is diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist. However, a treatment team which includes a psychologist or psychotherapist, may also help with psychotherapy. This is a lifelong condition that requires regular monitoring and treatment. Medications might include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antidepressant-antipsychotic, or anti-anxiety medication. A trained psychiatrist will help the patient find the right medication or combination of medications. Different types of psychotherapy can help in managing the behavioural symptoms such as cognitive behavioural therapy, psychoeducation, and family therapy. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has also been prescribed in extremely difficult cases.



The DSM-5 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5

The Mayo Clinic: Mayoclinic.org

Video resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSvk8LLBo2g