Bipolar is a serious illness thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain which causes severe mood swings. These usually last several weeks and are far beyond what most of us experience. They are:

  • Low state of deep depression / despair
  • High or ‘manic’ psychosis (feeling extreme happiness or elation
  • Mixed where the person experiences symptoms of both depression and mania at the same time

During a period of depression, symptoms may include:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless or irritable most of the time
  • Lacking energy
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • Loss of interest in everyday activities
  • Feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
  • Feelings of guilt and despair
  • Feeling pessimistic about everything
  • Self-doubt
  • Being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Waking up early
  • Suicidal thoughts

Manic episodes can last from 2 weeks to 4-5 months if left untreated. The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:

  • Feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
  • Excessive / rapid speech
  • Feeling full of energy
  • Inflated sense of self-important
  • Feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • Being easily distracted
  • Being easily irritated or agitated
  • Lack of sleeping and not eating
  • Excessive risk taking – such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items, overuse of addictive substances such as drugs and alcohol
  • Making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful
  • Acting on impulse

Bipolar is affected by both environmental and genetic factors which occur throughout a person’s life. Stress and hormone changes can be environmental factors and a person’s family history can be genetic. There has to be factors from both aspects for a person to develop Bipolar.

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