Bipolar disorder was previously known as ’manic depressive disorder’. A bipolar person can appear to function extremely well in society. This disorder presents itself in a number of different ways, which can make it difficult for doctors to diagnose, and they don’t always agree either.
Now remember the warning – don’t start diagnosing your friends and family when you read on…
Bipolar disorder is described as periods of mania or hypomania that then cycles into depression. The two main types of Bipolar disorder are Bipolar disorder 1 and Bipolar disorder 2. In Bipolar disorder 1, a person experiences full blown mania (which is explained below) for a number of days, or even weeks, and then plummets into depression. In Bipolar 2, a person experiences hypomania (often referred to as ‘light mania’) for days, weeks or even months, and then plummets into depression that can last for a very long time. In a nutshell, mania is worse in Bipolar 1 whereas depression is worse in Bipolar 2. In both cases very serious depression can lead to suicidal thoughts and even death by suicide.
Bipolar Disorder is not: just the ups and downs of life – where one day you feel okay to be single, and the next day you remember your partner who broke up with you and feel really sad for a while. People who are mentally well have good days and bad days. Bipolar disorder is only diagnosed from late adolescence or early adulthood as children can outgrow other conditions which may display similar symptoms. Because it is so difficult to diagnose, most people with the disorder suffer into adulthood before being diagnosed. Some never are.