Centre for Youth Bipolar Disorder
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About bipolar disorder

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder (BD), also known as manic-depressive illness, is characterized by shifts in moods between "highs" and "lows." The highs are classified as manic or hypomanic states, and the lows as depressive states.

These states are generally quite different from the person's usual mood and behaviour. These changes in moods can last from several days up to months in duration. Bipolar disorder tends to run in families and is often highly-impairing.

The mainstay of treatment for bipolar disorder is medication, however counseling or talking-based treatments are often helpful in addition.

Symptoms of mania may include:

  • Elevated mood-silliness or extreme happiness that is inappropriate 
  • Irritability or hostility
  • Grandiosity-inflated sense of importance
  • Racing speech and thoughts
  • Talking more than usual
  • Excessive distractibility
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Reckless behavior or poor judgment (daredevil acts, hypersexuality)

Symptoms of depression may include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness and/or crying spells
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Lack of pleasure in life
  • Withdrawal from favorite activities
  • Sleeping too much or inability to sleep
  • Drop in grades or inability to concentrate
  • Thoughts of death and suicide
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Significant weight loss, weight gain or change in appetite