Understanding Bipolar Disorder: Mood Swings and Beyond

what is bipolar disorder


Depression and bipolar disorder, are two common mental health conditions that can significantly impact daily life. Depression, characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and loss of interest, affects millions of people worldwide and can lead to difficulties in various areas of life. Bipolar disorder involves alternating periods of depression and manic episodes, and its diagnosis relies on symptoms, illness progression, and family history. 

While treatments such as therapy and medication are available for both conditions, healthcare providers must consider individual preferences and potential side effects when determining the best approach. Additionally, it’s important to recognize that antidepressants may not be suitable for everyone, particularly children and adolescents. Overall, seeking help from a healthcare professional is essential for managing these conditions effectively and improving quality of life.

Bipolar Disorder: What is it?

Depression, also called depressive disorder, is a common mental health issue. It makes people feel sad or lose interest in things they used to enjoy for a long time.

Depression isn’t just feeling down sometimes. It can affect everything in life, like relationships with family and friends, and how well you do at school or work.

Anyone can get depression, especially if they’ve been through tough things like abuse or big losses. Women are more likely to have depression than men.

About 3.8% of people worldwide have depression. That’s around 280 million people. It’s more common in women and older adults. Depression affects over 10% of pregnant women and new mothers.

Sadly, many people don’t get treatment for depression, especially in poorer countries. This happens because there’s not enough support for mental health care, not enough trained doctors, and because people are often ashamed to talk about mental health issues.

What Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Are There?

During a depressive episode, a person feels sad or empty. They might not enjoy things they used to like, and these feelings last for most of the day, nearly every day, for at least two weeks.

Other signs of a depressive episode include:

  • Struggling to concentrate
  • Feeling guilty or worthless
  • Losing hope about the future
  • Thinking about death or suicide
  • Sleeping problems
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Feeling very tired or low on energy

Depression can make life hard in all areas, like at home, work, or school.

Depressive episodes can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on how many symptoms there are and how much they affect someone’s life.

There are different types of depressive episodes, like:

  • Single episode: when someone has their first and only episode
  • Recurrent: when someone has had at least two depressive episodes before
  • Bipolar disorder: when depressive episodes switch with periods of feeling super energetic or irritable (manic symptoms)

Diagnosed How is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder can’t be diagnosed with blood tests or brain scans yet. Doctors diagnose it based on symptoms, how the illness progresses, and family history. They also check for other medical conditions that might cause similar mood changes, like brain tumors or strokes.

There are different types of bipolar disorder, and doctors use guidelines from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to diagnose them:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder: This is when someone has intense manic or mixed episodes lasting at least seven days, sometimes needing hospital care. They also have depressive episodes, lasting at least two weeks, which are a big change from their usual behavior.
  1. Bipolar II Disorder: Here, people have depressive episodes and milder hypomanic episodes, but not full-blown mania.
  1. Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS): This diagnosis is used when someone’s symptoms don’t fit exactly into bipolar I or II. Their symptoms might not last long enough or might not be severe enough, but they’re still out of the ordinary.
  1. Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia): This is a milder form of bipolar disorder, where people have periods of hypomania and mild depression for at least two years without meeting the criteria for other types of bipolar disorder.

Some people might also have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, where they have four or more mood episodes in a year.

How to Treat Bipolar Disorders?

If you’re feeling depressed, some treatments can help. These include therapy and medication. It’s important to seek help if you’re experiencing depression symptoms.

Therapy is usually the first treatment for depression. Sometimes, medication is also used, especially for moderate to severe depression. But for mild depression, therapy alone might be enough.

Therapy can teach you new ways to handle your thoughts, feelings, and relationships. It can be done with a therapist in person or online. There are also self-help tools like books, websites, and apps that can be useful.

Effective therapies for depression include:

  • Behavioral activation
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Problem-solving therapy

Medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like fluoxetine, are also used to treat depression.

Doctors need to consider the possible side effects of antidepressants and what treatment options are available. They also need to listen to your preferences.

Antidepressants aren’t recommended for children, and they’re used with caution in teenagers. Bipolar requires different treatments and medications.


In conclusion, depression is a common mental health issue that can have a significant impact on daily life. While it cannot yet be diagnosed through physical tests, seeking help from a healthcare professional is crucial if you’re experiencing symptoms. Effective treatments for depression include therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, and problem-solving therapy, as well as medication like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). 

Healthcare providers need to consider individual preferences and potential side effects when determining the best course of treatment. Additionally, it’s important to note that antidepressants are not recommended for children and should be used with caution in adolescents. Bipolar disorder requires different treatments and medications tailored to its unique symptoms and patterns.


Q1. What is a bipolar person like?

A1. Bipolar disorder is when someone’s mood changes a lot. They can go from feeling happy and energetic (mania or hypomania) to feeling very sad and low (depression).

Q2. How do I know if I’m bipolar?

A2. If you have bipolar disorder, you might have big mood swings. Sometimes you’ll feel super high and excited, and other times you’ll feel low and sad. These moods can last for several days or longer.

Q3. Can I live a normal life with bipolar?

A3. Yes, it’s possible to live a good life with bipolar disorder. It might be tough sometimes, but with the right treatment and support, you can manage it and live well.

Q4. What happens when you are bipolar?

A4. Bipolar disorder makes your mood swing a lot. You might feel very happy and full of energy one moment (mania), and then very sad and hopeless the next (depression).

Q5. Do people with bipolar disorder fall in love?

A5. Yes, people with bipolar disorder can have healthy relationships. Having bipolar disorder doesn’t mean you’ll have problems in your relationships. But if you don’t get the right treatment, it might cause some tension.

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