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Resource Library Glossary

Key Definitions

The following are definitions associated with mental health care. Information sources include the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

What is Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from one day to months. This mental illness causes unusual and dramatic shifts in mood, energy and the ability to think clearly. Cycles of high (manic) and low (depressive) moods may follow an irregular pattern that differs from the typical ups and downs experienced by most people. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can have a negative impact on a person’s life. Damaged relationships or a decline in job or school performance are potential effects, but positive outcomes are possible.

Two main features characterize people who live with bipolar disorder: intensity and oscillation (ups and downs). People living with bipolar disorder often experience two intense emotional states. These two states are known as mania and depression. A manic state can be identified by feelings of extreme irritability and/or euphoria, along with several other symptoms during the same week, such as agitation, surges of energy, reduced need for sleep, talkativeness, pleasure-seeking or increased risk-taking behavior. On the other side, when an individual experiences symptoms of depression, they feel extremely sad, hopeless and have a loss of energy. Not everyone’s symptoms are the same, and the severity of mania and depression can vary.

Learn more at: http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder

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