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Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder characterised by periods in which people’s well-being and vitality fluctuates, or they go into the so-called manic episodes (mania) and have episodes of depression. Then name bipolar disorder refers to the state that arises being like two opposite poles of the condition. The symptoms of the disorder usually come forward between the ages of 15 and 25. Before people are diagnosed with bipolar disorder they have sometimes had recurring depressive episodes without having gone into mania. So some people are first diagnosed with depression, but as soon as the first manic episode occurs, the diagnosis converts into a bipolar disorder. Still, not all people with bipolar disorder experience depressive episodes. Although bipolar disorder is a serious mental disorder that affects people's lives, people with bipolar disorder often show or experience no symptoms between illness cycles and are often free of symptoms for long periods of time. Thereby, people with bipolar disorder often do well, especially if people seek help and learn about the illness and factors that affect it. Orderliness, a good night sleep and a healthy lifestyle are important. Medication is generally considered to have a good effect, both in manic periods and between them. Bipolar disorder is divided into several disorders, which are all different, but they have these fluctuations in common. You can read about the different types of bipolar disorder HERE.


Mania is a period of bipolar disorder characterised by high energy and vitality. Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme fluctuations in well-being and mania is the high point of the fluctuations. When a person is in a mania, they are more energetic and more powerful than usual, but in some people mania may appear as increased irritability. An individual in a mania has unusually high and stable activity and energy, e.g. it is common to sleep too little and work night and day on a task without feeling tired or lacking energy. Mania has a significant disruptive effect on people's ability to handle daily life, duties and social life. People often have to be admitted to a psychiatric ward because when the mania is severe, people are at risk of getting into difficult and even dangerous situations and that has a significant disruptive impact on people's life and existence. Mania is progressively manifested, the symptoms increase and become more severe and prominent until they peak. Therefore, mania does not appear as if a button was switched on, but rather it can sneak up behind people’s back as well as their relatives.

A simplified description of being in a mania might sound like this is a desirable situation, full of energy and vitality. The reality is, however, that in a mania, people are not themselves and do and say things that they do not mean or would not normally say or do. Commonly, in a mania, people are more risk averse than usual, e.g. they might drive too fast, gamble or have an affair. It may even occur that people in a mania lose significant connection with reality and show symptoms of psychosis. (PSYCHOSIS)

When people come out of a mania, they often experience great regret and remorse for what they said or did in the mania. It is important that most people realise that what people do in a mania does not indicate who a person really is and that it is unfair to judge people based on what happens in that state. Many people think that a mania is a kind of rampant state where people show their inner person, and say and do what they really want, but that is a complete misunderstanding. That can happen to people after severe alcohol consumption but has nothing to do with mania, where people even behave completely opposite to their actual character.


Hypomania or excitability is a condition that resembles mania to a great extent but is less severe and often lasts for a shorter period. Thus, hypomania is also characterised by greater energy and force, but does not have a significant disruptive effect on people's ability to live their daily life, duties and social life. Symptoms of hypomania are not serious enough for people that are in that state to be admitted to a psychiatric ward and hypomania is never accompanied by psychosis. It is necessary that there is a great change in mood, not just that an individual is generally an energetic person. It also goes for hypomania that the situation is not desirable and can have a detrimental effect on both the person experiencing hypomania and the people around them.


Depression periods are the low point in bipolar disorder fluctuations. In the majority of cases, a depressive episode follows directly after a mania. A depressive episode is a period in which many symptoms of depression occur at the same time, such as sadness, loss of interest or happiness, changes in appetite and sleep, restlessness, difficulties with concentration, and feeling worthless. Read more about depression HERE. Depression periods in a bipolar disorder are usually very serious and often last for a long time, longer than the manic period. They are often more severe than when people experience depression without having bipolar disorder. This is especially relevant if a person has just come out of a mania and has great regret for what they said or did during the mania. Depression in bipolar disorder can be associated with a high risk of suicide (SUICIDE). Especially in cases where an individual is experiencing mania and depression at the same time or the so-called "mixed state", where people are often energetic and perform quickly which can be a very dangerous condition when mixed with suicidal thoughts.