Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar disorder is a type of mental illness that is indicated by extreme mood shift. It is accompanied by a lot of symptoms, although some of these symptoms are hard to notice, one of the most noticeable symptoms is called mania – an extreme elevation of mood. This is usually accompanied by episodes of depression. This is why bipolar disorder was also known as manic depression.   

Bipolar disorder has symptoms that can take over the individuals personal life. This is why the individual may have trouble managing their everyday life tasks such as work, school and relationships. There are several treatments to manage the disorder, but as yet there is no cure. In truth, bipolar disorder is not a rare brain disorder. According to a study, about 5% of the population are living with it. One common symptom is severe depression, and it can last for months. Regardless of age, a person having a high episode (maniac) usually has this symptom for several days to weeks. Other people experience strong mood swings several times a year while some only experience them rarely.   

Let's take a look at some of the common symptoms of Bipolar Disorder -  

There are three symptoms common to bipolar disorder: 

Mania: a person with mania usually feels very high – like they are under the influence of drugs or some other substance. This is usually an emotional high accompanied by excitement, impulsiveness, euphoria, and high energy. Any person with mania disorder should watch out for behaviours including unprotected sex, uncontrolled spending, and drug use.    

Hypomania: this is usually associated with bipolar II disorder. It shares some similarities with mania, but doesn’t have has much severity. Unlike mania, it doesn’t tend to affect work, relationships or school life of the person affected. Still, people with hypomania notice changes in their mood, but slightly less than mania.    

Depression: for those affected by depression, it is usually associated with deep sadness, hopelessness, loss of energy, too little or excessive sleep, lack of interest in previous hobbies, and sometimes, suicidal thoughts.    

The symptoms mentioned above include some of the reasons why bipolar disorder is hard to diagnose. The symptoms are varied and it is hard to tell which is which, even though the condition is not rare. 


Bipolar disorder has two extreme sides: up and down. Most times, you need to have experienced a period of mania and hypomania to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. So what do you do if don’t know anything about mania and hypomania? Well, you can tell from some signs such as the 'up' sides to bipolar disorder. 'Up' has to do with feeling energised and easily excitable. The 'down' side to bipolar disorder has to do with major depressive episodes or a severe 'down' mood. 'Down' moods usually include feeling unmotivated, lethargic, extreme sad and even suicidal thoughts.   

Let's take a look at some of the triggers and warning signs - 

GENETICS: if you are in a family that commonly has bipolar disorder, then you are very likely to have it too. The only exception is if the genes are not passed to you. We will explain this further below. 

YOUR BRAIN: having abnormalities in your brain structure or functions might increase your risks of bipolar disorder. 

THE ENVIRONMENT: lots of external factors can cause you to develop bipolar disorder. Some environmental causes include stress, debt, employment, welfare, traumatic experiences, and physical illnesses. This depends on your response to the environment, because not everyone develops bipolar disorder from their environmental experiences.  It is more likely that a combination of these symptoms can lead to the development of bipolar disorder.   

So how likely are you to suffer from bipolar disorder from heredity? You know by now that bipolar disorder can be transmitted through genes from parent to child. There is a research that has identified that there is a strong genetic link in people that have bipolar disorder. If you are related to a person that has the illness, you are four to six times more likely to develop the illness than someone that has no family history of the condition. However, this does not mean that you are definitely going to develop the illness, but it is a warning sign you can look out for.