Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms & Causes

What is bipolar disease?

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder that was previously called manic depression. It is a type of mental health condition that causes the patient to suffer from extreme and abrupt mood swings. These mood swings are a lot of times, apparently unprovoked. These mood swings could cause a person to feel extremely low and dull at times, leading to depression or depressive disorder. While sometimes, the mood swings caused by bipolar disorder make a person feel very emotionally high or giddy, often described as hypomania or mania.

When sadness persists, the person with bipolar disorder might have to endure hopelessness and dismay most of the time, if not all. Naturally, this may cause a person to lose interest or not gain any pleasure from most of their favorite activities that formerly made them happy. On the contrary, when bipolar person goes through the polar opposite of depressive sentiments, they tend to experience mania or hypomania. Mania or hypomania causes a bipolar patient to be extremely energetic, high in spirits, intoxicatingly optimistic, and euphoric. These feelings usually do not come alone and are coupled with irritability. This sudden surge of polarity in emotions affects a person in several ways, including the sleep cycle, eating pattern, behavior, thought process, decision-making, energy level throughout the day, and performance during various activities.

Based on different triggers and the level of intensity, the frequency of these episodes varies from person to person. Some people might have these episodes daily, while others would endure them weekly or monthly. 

Despite bipolar disorder being a condition that stays with bipolar patients throughout their lives, it is very much manageable. The symptoms of bipolar disorder and mood swings can be decreased or controlled to some extent if the patient seeks help via medication or therapy.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

There are different forms of bipolar illness, and its symptoms are frequently reported in conjunction with numerous other mental health conditions. The symptoms of bipolar disorder may include mania, hypomania, or depressive disorder. The frequent occurrence of these symptoms may lead to sudden and impromptu changes in a person’s mood and behavior. These abrupt mood swings may cause serious issues and distress in a person’s life.

  1. Bipolar I disorder

If you are suffering from Bipolar I disorder, there is a good chance of you going through at least one episode of mania or hypomania. These episodes of mania or hypomania are most probably followed by an episode of depressive disorder. Many times, these episodes get out of hand and turn into psychosis. Psychosis is a dangerous form of bipolar disorder where the patient has no idea of what they are doing and how they are doing. They lose all awareness regarding what is happening in their surroundings and how they respond to it.

  1. Bipolar II disorder

Usually, people assume Bipolar II disorder to be a milder or a different version of Bipolar I disorder. While in reality, Bipolar II disorder is a different disorder with similar symptoms and triggers but not entirely the same as Bipolar I disorder. Patients with Bipolar II disorder do not have to go through a manic episode. However, they might endure depressive disorder and hypomanic disorder. Depressive disorder and hypomania disorder may occur together one by one or at different times.

  1. Cyclothymic disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is less intense and frequent compared to Bipolar I disorder and Bipolar II disorder. In Cyclothymic disorder, the symptoms may appear with a yearly gap and sometimes just a few times during your life. But no matter how infrequent the symptoms are, they have at least disrupted your life twice if you are an adult and at least once if you are a child. The symptoms of Cyclothymic disorder include the symptoms of hypomania, usually followed by the symptoms of depressive disorder. However, hypomania and depression do not occur as intensely as in Bipolar I and Bipolar II disorders. Patients with Cyclothymic disorder usually go undiagnosed most of their life due to less severity in the symptoms and infrequency of the occurrence of this disorder.

  1. Other related disorders

Since Bipolar disorder is diagnosed and treated based on the symptoms and triggers, many other disorders could either lead to bipolar disorder or share similarities with bipolar disorder. These disorders could be multiple sclerosis, Cushing’s disease, or substance or drug abuse. These disorders could occur in a person owing to various reasons and eventually have them acquire any type or form of bipolar disorder in the later years of their life.

While describing the symptoms of Bipolar disorder, there has been a frequent mention of Depressive disorder, Mania, and Hypomania. To understand how bipolar disorder affects a person, we need to understand what depressive disorder, mania, and hypomania are

Mania and hypomania

Mania and hypomania are two similar yet different types of disorders. Despite the distinction, they both have very similar symptoms. Mania happens to be more severe than hypomania. Mania may often lead to psychosis.

Both maniac and hypomanic episode symptoms include less severe or more severe forms. Depending on the disorder, some of the symptoms are mentioned below.

  • Abnormally high-spirited 
  • euphoria
  • Overly energetic
  • Agitation
  • Lack of sleep
  • Being overly and unusually talkative, talking too fast
  • Continuous overthinking and being unable to stop it
  • Easily distracted and not able to focus at all
  • Making decisions without thinking things through

Depressive disorder

A major depressive episode includes the following symptoms 

  • Feeling sad, hollow, dismayed
  • Frequent episodes of crying
  • Lack of interest or not being able to seek pleasure from favorite activities or hobbies
  • Abrupt weight gain or sudden weight loss
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Restlessness
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Displaced or inappropriate guilt
  • Indecisiveness
  • Unable to focus or concentrate
  • Continuous Suicidal thoughts 

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several factors can lead to its development. This may be due to genetics or biological differences. Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a family history of this condition. Biological differences, such as physical changes in the brain, may cause bipolar disease to some extent. 

Risk Factors

Risk factors that may increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder or trigger the first episode in people include:

  • Having first-degree bipolar relatives, such as a parent or sibling
  • High stress may trigger bipolar disease
  • Drug or alcohol abuse


Bipolar disorder is not an indication of personal weakness but a physical condition. It is like other diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, or any other health condition. The exact cause is unknown, but with the help of your healthcare providers, bipolar disorder can be managed very efficiently. The more you are aware of your condition, the better you can manage your condition. 

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