Bipolar disorder, also known occasionally as bipolar affective disorder, is a psychiatric disease and mood diagnosis that explores mood disorders for people who experience large mood swings from happy to sad. This is meant to encompass the balance between symptoms of depression, on the low end of the disorder, and a state known as mania, or hypomania, on the high end of the spectrum.
Individuals suffering from bipolar disorder experience both the lows and the highs, sometimes in violent and quick mood swings and sometimes within just a few hours of each other. In hypomania, people experience a frenzied state of life where they make wild decisions, show incredible energy, and often are irrational and unusually happy. At the other end, in the depression state, individuals show strong levels of sadness, depression, lethargy, and a lack of energy and desire to complete tasks.
The causes of bipolar disorder will vary widely between individuals and their own personal experiences. Many doctors and psychologists have suggested that there is significant evidence and a case for acknowledging genetic causes to bipolar disorder, as many chromosomal regions of the brain and candidate genes relating to mania and depression are over-expressed in people who suffer from bipolar disorder.
Still other psychologists and doctors suggest physiological causes to bipolar disorder, in that the brain of those suffering from the affliction is made and created differently than is the brain of people who do not suffer. And finally, a third cause is environmental; relating to the environment and situations a person with bipolar disorder is placed in. A situation with higher levels of stress and uncertainty may exacerbate and increase a person’s bipolar disorder signs and symptoms.
Symptoms will vary widely for bipolar disorder, as there is no agreed upon and universal set of symptoms or signs that one may be suffering. However, there are sure signs that one is affected by bipolar disorder, including the way people experience intermittent periods of highs and lows. People who seem to consistently be very high and excited one minute, and immediately depressed and sulking the next may be experience some spectrum in the range of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is very difficult to be diagnosed by medical professionals, because the symptoms can be hard to spot, and typically diagnosis takes place from spotting the depressed states, leading to a significant number of misdiagnoses including those who believe the patient is suffering from only major depression, and not the combined states that form bipolar disorder.