What is bipolar disorder?

Many people have misconceptions about bipolar disorder.

Bipolar is characterized by states of mania: which is extreme energy lasting for days or weeks on end, feeling very social, colours can seem brighter, sensory phenomena seems more intense, very impulsive- this includes behaviour such as binge drinking, reckless spending, binge eating, sex with strangers etc. Feeling invincible and taking more risks than usual. Not wanting to be alone or “slow down”. People in a manic state can seem selfish as they are concerned with using their energy and keeping their high spirits alive. They make ignore or become aggressive with people that interfere with their plans, actions or thought process. They can talk rapidly, have grandiose ideas of the future and/or themselves. Bipolar is not switching moods rapidly within a day. Mania has to be present to at least 5 days consecutively to be diagnosed with bipolar.

Then the switch between the manic state goes into the depressive state. This state is characterized by negative feelings about themselves/others, social withdrawal, extreme fatigue at most times of the days, eating more/less, less activity, less interest in those around them, thoughts of suicide or self harm may occur. Feeling sad and crying a lot is also common. Symptoms of the depressed state must also be present for at least 5 days consecutively.

The moods brought on by bipolar exist independently of whatever is happening in that individuals life. For example, someone with bipolar can be in a manic state despite what is happening in their life, if they are failing school, their friends are disappointed in them etc. Just as an individual with bipolar can be in a depressive state despite things in their life going well such as their job, their love life etc.

There are two types of bipolar:

Bipolar I which means that their manic states and depressed states are more intense. They may even hallucinate in their manic states. Their mania state lasts at least one week consecutively, and their depressed state must last at least one week as well consecutively to qualify for bipolar I.

Bipolar II is characterized by less extreme symptoms of mania and depression. Their manic states last at least 5 days but less than one week. Their depressed states last at least 5 days but less than one week.



What are the two basic types of mood disorders?


This consists of

  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Major Depressive Episode
  • Dysthymia
  • Seasonal Depression


This consists of

  • Bi-polar
  • Cyclothymia