Most Successful You School of Psychology & Neuroscience

What is Bipolar Disorder?

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Setting straight the irritating social media expression, 'that's so bipolar', or 'you're so bipolar'.  

It is a misuse of psychiatric terminology and shows lack of understanding of mental health disorders. Worse, it can further drive mental health stigma.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness that causes extreme mood swings, along with other symptoms that can negatively impact a persons life.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes people to have extreme mood swings. These mood swings can go from very high (mania) to very low (depression).


People with bipolar disorder may experience different symptoms during mania and depression. Bipolar disorder was previously known as Manic Depression/Manic Disorder. 
During mania, people may experiences extremes of the following:
Euphoria (manic phase) 
Excitement
Increased energy levels
Talkative - often grandiose and delusional in context
Reckless, impulsive and high risk behaviour
Irritability 
Insomnia - reduced physical need for sleep, this will be prolonged more than what can be expected 
Overactive - as if on overdrive (psychomotor agitation)
Disorganized and distracted easily
Spendthrift - extreme spending more than normal, often high end goods and things that could, as a result, present the person with serious negative financial consequences.
Have racing thoughts
Some people with Bipolar can experience what is termed as mixed features, where they have mixed episodes of mania and depression at the same time.   

Major Depressive Episode: 
To be diagnosed with a major depressive episode, the DSM-5 states that an individual must experience five or more of the following symptoms in two weeks: 

Sad - depressed mood for the majority of the day on a daily basis
Feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem and feeling worthless
Fatigued - significant loss of energy
Loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
Difficulty concentrating and ability to think
Changes in appetite - weight loss, decreased appetite or, the opposite 
Difficulty sleeping, pacing the room
Recurring intrusive thoughts of dying or suicide, or suicide attempt 

Bipolar disorder is a serious and lifelong mental health disorder, but it can be treated and managed successfully. 
Treatment usually includes medication and therapy. Medication helps to stabilize mood swings, and therapy empowers people to learn how to manage their symptoms.

The Different Types of Bipolar Disorder

“At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of.”
― Carrie Fisher (2019).

There are four different types of bipolar disorder according to the DSM-5; Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Bipolar I disorder is characterized by manic episodes (mania) that last at least 7 days, or any duration if hospitalization is required.
People with bipolar I disorder may also experience periods of depression.
Bipolar II disorder is characterized by episodes of hypomania that last at least 4 days, and periods of depression. Hypomania is a milder form of mania, and people with hypomania may not experience all the same symptoms as people with mania.
Episodes of Psychosis have been found to occur more often in individuals with bipolar type I compared to bipolar type II disorder. Psychotic symptoms occur more frequently during periods of mania (Chakrabarti & Singh, 2022).
Cyclothymia (third) is a milder form of bipolar disorder that is characterized by periods of hypomania and periods of depression that do not meet the full criteria for a major depressive episode.
Unspecified bipolar and related disorder (fourth)is used to diagnose people who have symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not meet the full criteria for any of the other types of bipolar disorder.  

The Expert Experience
Ted 2023 Andy Dunn talks about what it is like to have bipolar. 
Andy Dunn is a successful entrepreneur who cofounded the men's apparel company Bonobos and sold it to Walmart for $310 million. He is also a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and has written a memoir about his experiences with bipolar disorder.
In May 2022, he published his memoir, Burn Rate: Launching a Startup and Losing My Mind, which chronicles his journey at the intersection of entrepreneurship and bipolar disorder.
Dunn is committed to sharing his story in the hopes of helping others who are struggling with mental health challenges. He is also a strong advocate for innovation and believes that technology can be used to address some of the world's most pressing challenges. 
Dunn's latest venture is a social app called Pie that addresses the societal trends of loneliness and social isolation.
Dunn's story is an inspiring one, and he is a role model for anyone who has ever struggled with mental illness. He is a reminder that it is possible to overcome challenges and achieve great things, even when you are facing adversity (Ted, 2023).
References
APA (2013). American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
Chakrabarti, S., & Singh, N. (2022). Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder and their impact on the illness: A systematic review. World journal of psychiatry, 12(9), 1204–1232. https://doi.org/10.5498/wjp.v12.i9.1204
Ted (2023). Lessons from Losing My Mind. May 2023. Ted Talks https://www.ted.com/talks/andy_dunn_lessons_from_losing_my_mind
Ted (2023). Ted Speakers Profile Andy Dunn. https://www.ted.com/speakers/andy_dunn
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