Today the term bipolar is often used to describe “moody” people. This is NOT bipolar illness. Bipolar illness is a very serious condition that can cause job loss, destroy relationships, damage ones personal reputation, and generally wreak havoc on every other aspect of life.
Bipolar illness has two sets of symptoms that alternate. The first is mania. This is when a person feels lots of energy, needs very little sleep, has fantastic creative ideas, and can accomplish tasks speedily that usually would take three times longer. Because of these symptoms the afflicted often becomes impatient with others for not keeping up or “doing it right.” Sometimes manic experiences can lead to disoriented and run-away thoughts as well as abusive behavior and sexual or financial indiscretions. Even mild forms of mania called hypo-mania or precursor “highs” can be damaging especially to ones self due to embarrassment that comes after the episode.
It is usually family, friends, and colleagues that first notice manic symptoms and try to “talk reason” to the one affected. If this is happening to you, seek treatment even if you feel well. You may not be.
Eventually, a person experiencing mania crashes. Depression follows. For an outline of the experience of depression see the Depression section.
Here, treatment for bipolar illness is similar to that for depression. In addition you will learn how to tell when simple good moods may be tipping into mania, the most difficult part of managing the condition. A person with bipolar illness sometimes tries to pretend it doesn’t exist. Often this is because of fear and a lack of knowledge concerning the condition. There is no need to be afraid. Bipolar is a treatable and manageable condition with the right treatment.