Bipolar disorder is a severe mood disorder characterized by intense periods of high or low mood. It includes periods of major depression and mania, which are also called depressive and manic episodes. Each of these episodes can last a couple of weeks to several months at a time. Bipolar 1 disorder requires at least one manic episode. Bipolar 2 disorder is the one in which an individual experiences hypomania. This is a low-grade version of mania, though it can be just as concerning. About three percent of the United States' population deals with bipolar disorder, which may manifest in late adolescence to early adulthood.
Patients often take mood stabilizers as a treatment for bipolar disorder. Many patients may also need medication for depression to handle their condition. Antipsychotics for bipolar disorder are also an option. Psychotherapy for bipolar disorder is often a continuous treatment. Some patients seek to use treatments such as meditation as natural mood stabilizers. However, patients need to understand the symptoms of this condition and discuss them with a doctor first.
Extreme Mood Swings
Extreme mood swings in bipolar disorder are not regular, day-to-day mood fluctuations. Instead, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, each episode in bipolar disorder mood swings must last for a minimum length of time. A depressive episode must last for a minimum of two weeks, and a manic episode must last at least one week. Mania is the upswing, the extremely elevated end of the mood swing.
However, mania is not positive simply because it involves an elevated mood. Instead, episodes have symptoms such as high or wired energy, distracted attention, thinking and talking rapidly, and an extremely grandiose sense of self. In extreme cases of mania, a patient may experience delusions and hallucinations and may require hospitalization. During depressive episodes, a patient will experience low mood, apathy, reduced motivation, fatigue, lack of concentration, hopelessness, insomnia or sleeping too much, and suicidal thoughts. Each cycle can go for an indeterminate period.