Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition marked by extreme swings in mood, energy, and the ability to function. The mood changes of bipolar disorder are more dramatic than normal ups and downs. They can hurt relationships and cause poor job or school performance. Bipolar disorder can be treated. Contact your doctor if you think you may have this condition.
The two mood extremes of bipolar disorder are mania and depression. In mania, one of the defining symptoms is an increase in energy and a decreased need for sleep. The mood may be overly happy or irritable. In depression, a down mood with fatigue takes over, often accompanied by irritability.
There are four forms of this condition:
- Bipolar I disorder—Recurrent episodes of mania often immediately followed by depression; episodes can be severe
- Bipolar II disorder—Episodes of less severe mania (called hypomania) that alternate with episodes of major depression
- Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BP-NOS)—The person has symptoms of bipolar disorder (e.g., acting in a way that is outside of their normal behavior), but the symptoms do meet the specific criteria for bipolar I or bipolar II disorder
- Cyclothymia—Episodes of hypomania that alternate with episodes of mild depression that last for at least two years
Last reviewedMarch 2013by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.