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Bipolar disorder—also called manic depression—is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings including alternating periods of extreme emotional highs (manias), extreme emotional lows (depressions), and intermediate stable moods. Manic episodes often last at least a week while depressive episodes often last at least two weeks, but every case is unique and the manic-depressive cycles can be frequent or rare.
Manic symptoms of bipolar disorder may include an exaggerated sense of confidence, optimism, euphoria, racing thoughts, distractibility, unusual talkativeness, a reduced need for sleep, grandiose ideas, reckless or impulsive behavior, irritability or aggression, poor judgment, and even hallucinations and delusions. In extreme cases, episodes of mania can lead to a condition called psychosis, which is like a dream state of total disconnection from reality.
Depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder may include constant fatigue, inability to concentrate or make simple decisions, prolonged sadness, hopelessness, indifference, pessimism, significant changes in sleep patterns and appetite, social withdrawal, and loss of interest in normal activities. In extreme cases, episodes of hypomania or depression may result in thoughts of self-harm or suicidal thoughts. If you believe that you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, seek emergency care or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, a network of over 160 nonprofit crisis centers who provide immediate and free counseling and mental health referrals.
Treatment & Care
Medication is generally part of the treatment plan for patients who suffer from bipolar disorder. An online bipolar disorder psychiatrist may be able to prescribe medications such as anticonvulsants to help treat bipolar disorder. However, the root cause of bipolar disorder is a dysregulation of the mood-stabilizing hormones in the central nervous system. Anything which helps stabilize your mood—such as exercise, meditation, or support from others—may be a good supplemental treatment in conjunction with medication to help mitigate the effects of bipolar disorder.