What is Bipolar disorder? Bipolar disorder is a treatable brain condition characterized by extreme and sometimes sudden shifts in mood, energy, thoughts, behavior, and the ability to carry out everyday tasks. These shifts in mood, called “mood episodes”, often produce intense emotional states, which can range from mania (highs) to deep depression (lows). Sometimes a mixed state can occur, where an individual may experience both mania and depression simultaneously. The mood swings of bipolar disorder are distinct from ordinary mood swings in their length, intensity, and the degree to which they may interfere with one’s life. The mood episodes of bipolar disorder may last a few hours, days, weeks, or even months.
Did you know that about six million adult Americans have bipolar disorder? Bipolar disorder is common – it occurs in all races, ethnic groups, social classes, and develops in equal numbers among men and women. While the disorder can appear at any age, typical onset begins in late adolescence (or one’s late teenage years), with a median onset age of 25 years old. A male’s onset typically begins with a manic episode, whereas a female’s begins with a depressive episode.
Bipolar disorder is not caused by some personal flaw or weakness. The precise cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but most scientists agree that multiple factors are likely involved in the onset of symptoms. While the disorder can appear at any age, onset can begin in late adolescence (or one’s late teenage years) with a median onset age of 25 years old.