Bipolar Affective Disorder

What is Bipolar Affective Disorder?

Bipolar disorder used to be known as manic depression. Individuals with this disorder have severe mood swings. These mood swings appear to occur for no clear reason. Most people that are not bipolar feel “normal.” Which is to say they neither feel particularly happy nor particularly sad. Their moods can vary depending on what is happening in their lives. But moods return to “normal” within hours or days. These changes in a healthy persons mood do not cause problems at work or school. Neither do they abnormally affect relations with family and friends.
In people with bipolar disorder however, these changes are extreme. The changes cause anxiety and may significantly affect their daily life. Although, in spite of bipolar disorder there are periods of “normal” mood. During which the afflicted are able to function in everyday life. The risk of extreme mood change is always present if medication is ignored.


depression photo
Depression is characterized by irritability, sadness, or the inability to have other emotions. Tiredness, malaise and appetite increases or decreases. The patient will have a lack of energy, no interest in hobbies, and sleep more or less than usual. The affected person will take no pleasure in ordinary things. They may stop interacting with family and friends. They will often feel helpless and hopeless.
These symptoms must be present for at least two weeks for a diagnosis of major depression. Untreated depression usually last six to twelve months. Major depression is usually associated with bipolar type 1.


 hyperactive photo
In periods of mania, the patient will feel particularly happy. They may even feel euphoric without clear reason. They might also be irritable or moody. It is possible they have more energy and need less sleep. They will often talk endlessly and be noticeably hyperactive. They may feel they have the answers to world peace, even become more religious. They sometimes give gifts and overspend. Thoughts may speed through their head at “50 thousand miles an hour” (thats a direct quote from me!) and they may not be able to control words or actions. The affected may think they have some kind of special mission. They can lack judgment and even put themselves and others in situations where they risk injury. These symptoms must be present for at least a week to establish a diagnosis. Serious mania is usually associates with bipolar type 2.


A lesser form of mania is known as hypomania. This is diagnosed when minor mania symptoms are present for at least four days. Episodes of mania or untreated hypomania usually last three to six months.

How does bipolar disease evolve in a patients lifetime?

Most people experience mania or hypomania, and depression in periods of their lives. The number of episodes occurring during the life of a patient may vary, but it is on average around ten. They will not always be depressed or in a manic phase. At times, their mood will be “normal” and everything will be fine. The period of normal mood between two episodes shortens after the first 5 episodes.

Do Bipolar patients all have the same symptoms?

There are various “types” of bipolar disorder, which are defined by symptoms. The different behaviors and changes in mood help doctors rank bipolar disorder. Among many, the type of bipolar disorder may vary according to the time of their lives.