Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is a type of affective disorder that involves unusual shifts in mood state, energy level, and behavior. These dramatic fluctuations may alternate between depression, normal mood, and elation and/or irritability. There are different types of Bipolar Disorder, depending on the frequency and duration of the manic or depressive episodes.

What is mania?

Mania is a mood state in which the individual diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder displays particular behaviors, which may include the following symptoms:

  • Excessively high or euphoric mood
  • Extreme irritability
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Increased activity level
  • Provocative or aggressive behavior
  • Excessive sexual activity
  • Reckless spending
  • Poor judgment and risky behavior
  • Inflated self-esteem or unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities
  • Distractibility and inability to focus
  • Rapid and pressured speech

During a manic episode, an individual may experience symptoms of psychosis, such as hallucinations (hearing voices, seeing things that do not exist), or delusions (persistent, false beliefs such as being convinced that he or she has magical powers or is the leader of a country).

What happens when you are not manic?

When someone comes down from their mania they may become extremely depressed. Often, while the person was in their manic episode, they may have spent all their money (credit cards, checking accounts, savings accounts), they may have ruined interpersonal relationships, or have other negative effects to confront. Individuals with Bipolar Disorder usually follow a manic episode with a depression, which may include the following symptoms:

  • Feeling down or depressed much of the day
  • Anhedonia (lack of interest in activities which they previously found pleasurable)
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of appetite, overeating
  • Excessive sleeping, feeling fatigued throughout the day
  • Insomnia or early morning awakening
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Suicidal ideation (thoughts of death or suicide)
  • Feelings of hopelessness, and worthlessness
  • Guilt over feeling depressed
  • Sadness over the end of a manic episode (sometimes individuals are excessively productive in certain areas when they are manic)
  • Physical complaints or other unexplained pain/discomfort

Is there anything to treat Bipolar Disorder?

Counseling & Psychological Services provides professional, confidential counseling and assessment. They can also help with referrals for off-campus treatment. C&PS can be reached at (203) 254-4000 ext. 2146.

Bipolar Disorder is a life-long disorder. Fortunately, effective treatment can help the individual with Bipolar Disorder live a healthy and productive life. Treatment may include a combination of "talk" psychotherapy (or other models of therapy) and medications to stabilize mood.

Helpful Links:

National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI)
What is Bipolar Disorder? From the University of Maryland Medical Center
Bipolar Disorder - Signs & Symptoms from the National Mental Health Association
The Mood Disorder Questionnaire
Bipolar Disorder Overview from the Mayo Clinic
Bipolar Disorder Learning Center from Healthline


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