Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes dramatic changes in mood, energy and activity levels. It can affect your daily life and relationships, but treatment is usually effective.
Your risk of developing bipolar disorder depends on several factors, including genetics, biological traits and life events. Having a family member with bipolar disorder raises your risk of getting it too.
A person with bipolar disorder has episodes of extreme mood swings that can last for weeks or months. These shifts come in two forms, called mania and depression.
Mania is a very euphoric, high state of emotions and behavior. It causes people to do things they normally wouldn’t, such as spending large amounts of money on unnecessary items or driving recklessly. It also sometimes includes psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations.
In a manic episode, your behavior may become so extreme that you won’t be able to work, school or socialize. You may also do or say things that are inappropriate or embarrassing.
You may have thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts during a manic episode. If you have thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else, get help immediately. If you don’t get help, your symptoms will worsen and you could have a major depression or other serious symptoms of bipolar disorder.
A bipolar diagnosis is made by a doctor after a series of tests and observations. These tests can detect the different types of symptoms that a person has during an episode.
They also look at how the brain functions during these episodes. Studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder have differences in the size and activation of certain areas of their brains. These differences may contribute to the development of the disorder and might someday lead to new treatments for it.
The cause of bipolar disorder isn’t completely understood, but scientists believe that a number of things can trigger it. These include physical, environmental and psychological stressors. Some people develop the condition in their teenage years or later in life.
Research shows that many genes are involved in the development of bipolar disorder. These genes can change the way your brain functions and the amount of chemicals in your body that are needed to feel normal.
Your genes can also affect the way your body reacts to certain chemicals in your bloodstream, which can affect how you respond to stress and other situations that might trigger an episode of mania or depression. This can also be a factor in why you have episodes of mania or depression more frequently than others.
You can’t avoid having bipolar disorder, but you can manage the symptoms with medication and talk therapy (psychotherapy). There is no known cure for the condition, but with the right treatment, most people with it are able to live full and healthy lives.
Managing the illness by sticking with a treatment plan and putting time into self-care and maintaining healthy relationships can keep your symptoms at bay.