I have grandiose future plans on doing a full on website information hub about Bipolar Disorder but in the meantime here’s a super brief description:
Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness, a mood disorder in fact, characterised by extreme high’s called “hypomania’s” and “mania’s” and extreme lows called “depressions”.
There are three sub types, in order of severity:
Bipolar 1: Episodes of depression and full blown mania sometimes with psychotic features, severely impairs ability to work or function.
Bipolar: Episodes of depression and hypomania – psychotic features are very uncommon, interferes with daily ability to function. Episodes of depression tend to be more frequent than episodes of mania.
and Cyclothymia: Cyclical swings between mild depression and mild mood elevation that does not impair with daily functioning.
What is Mania?
Mania is an extreme elevation of mood that goes well above the norms of excitement and happiness and starts interfering with your daily life, psychosis may also be involved.
Mania sometimes presents as a wonderful happy euphoria where colours look brighter and everything feels possible or it might present as extreme irritation, anger and racing thoughts. Below are some of the symptoms, they can vary with each episode and some people get only one or two others seem to get the whole list.
You may start having grandiose thoughts or beliefs such as you are unusually lucky, unable to be hurt or exceptionally skilled at something. This can lead to risky gambling and unsafe behavior such as driving too fast or simply embarrassing yourself by telling the world just how wonderful you are. Some people find newfound unique connections with God or if severe delusions occur they might decide that they in fact are God.
Floods of brilliant (and in hindsight, often not so brilliant) ideas might start flying to your mind thick and fast and you can find yourself sending letters to politicians telling them how to solve world hunger or losing days to research when you think that you alone have cracked the cure for cancer. Setting up new businesses is a popular one.
It can impair judgement and relieve inhibitions so you might start taking risks or putting yourself into awkward or unsafe situations.
The bank balance can be badly affected, over spending can occur on anything from clothing to cars depending on the funds or credit limits available.
Insomnia – How can you sleep when you have three different songs, the perfect best selling novel and a sure fire way to eliminate Diabetes rushing around in your head? It is not uncommon for people to go several days with no or very little sleep, I went 5 days straight with no sleep at all once – that didn’t end well.
Hypersexuality – Sometimes mania causes people to become apparent overnight sex addicts, this can lead to affairs and destroy relationships.
Talking, too fast and too often. Talking over the top of people, oversharing – revealing things to strangers who we wouldn’t normally even chat too. Sometimes the thoughts rushing through our speeding minds go so quickly that we can no longer articulate them properly skipping words or even whole sentences and confusing people.
What is Hypomania?
Hypomania literally means “below mania” and is essentially a more watered down version of the same symptoms as Mania that will not generally have severe psychotic features such as delusions or hallucinations and generally it still allows the ability to exercise some level of judgement. But don’t get me wrong, hypomania still ruins lives, particularly because the changes in your personality may not be as noticeable to others as with full blown mania so it can fly under the radar for a lot longer than if you are running around proclaiming that you are God. You may feel more energetic even be more productive or creative than usual. Every promotion I have ever had as well as writing my memoir over a 6 week period was the result of hypomania.
The Depression in Bipolar Disorder is identical to that of Uni Polar Depression and is characterised by extended periods of very low mood. The severity of depression varies with the individual and may include suicidal thoughts or actions.
For more information on Bipolar Depression as well as self diagnosis checklists for both Bipolar Disorder and Uni Polar Depression the Blackdog Institute Website is a wealth of information.