Bipolar disorder is characterized by extremes in mood and related changes in behavior and thoughts. In this condition, an individual experiences both highs (mania or its milder form, hypomania), and lows (depression), or a mixture of symptoms at the same time.
What is tricky about manic symptoms is that, unlike depression, they may not be recognized by individuals with the condition, and in fact the symptoms may be enjoyable to them.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder come and go, but the condition itself is chronic and requires ongoing management, like diabetes does. However, with good treatment and self-management skills, individuals with bipolar disorder can lead productive and fulfilling lives.
Previously called manic depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is relatively common – about one in every hundred people (1%) develop bipolar disorder.