Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder where a person shifts between high and low emotional states. Bipolar disorder used to be called manic depression.
If you have bipolar disorder you may experience:
- Low periods: Where you feel sad, tearful, hopeless, irritable, tired, or may want to hurt yourself.
- High periods: Where you feel excessively happy, euphoric, invincible, restless, or may have racing thoughts.
- Psychotic symptoms: Where you feel anxious, suspicious, withdrawn, or may believe things that aren’t true.
The low periods in bipolar disorder are called depressive episodes. The high periods are called manic episodes.
Some people with bipolar disorder experience a less severe type of manic episode called a hypomanic episode. This is where manic symptoms are mild.
There are two types of bipolar disorder: bipolar 1 and bipolar 2.
Bipolar 1 is where you have at least one manic episode between your depressive episodes. Bipolar 2 is where you have at least one hypomanic episode between your depressive episodes.
Not everyone who has bipolar disorder experiences psychotic symptoms. But some people may.
Do the mood patterns described remind you of your own experiences? Discuss this with your doctor.
If you receive a bipolar diagnosis, there are many treatments available to help you manage your symptoms.
If the mood patterns described resonate with you, but your symptoms are mild, you may have cyclothymia. Cyclothymia is a different from bipolar.
If you have the mild mood disorder, cyclothymia, you may cycle between high and low periods. But your shifts in mood are less severe. If this sounds familiar, speak to your doctor.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that is triggered by seasonal changes.
People with SAD often feel low in mood in winter. But not everyone with SAD does. For some people with SAD, the summer months negatively impact mood.
The exact cause of SAD is unknown, but it may relate to changes in light levels in different seasons.
If you feel low at specific times of year, you may have SAD. Discuss this with your doctor. There are a number of treatments available for SAD, including lifestyle changes and light therapy.