Bipolar Disorder
(Manic Depression)

Coping with Bipolar

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Bipolar disorder, also known by its older name "manic depression," is a mental disorder that is characterized by serious mood swings. A person with bipolar disorder experiences alternating “highs” (what clinicians call “mania“) and “lows” (also known as depression). Both the manic and depressive periods can be brief, from just a few hours to a few days, or longer, lasting up to several weeks or even months. The periods of mania and depression vary from person to person — many people may only experience very brief periods of these intense moods, and may not even be aware that they have bipolar disorder.

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A manic episode is characterized by extreme happiness, extreme irritability, hyperactivity, little need for sleep and/or racing thoughts, which may lead to rapid speech. A depressive episode is characterized by extreme sadness, a lack of energy or interest in things, an inability to enjoy normally pleasurable activities and feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. On average, someone with bipolar disorder may have up to three years of normal mood between episodes of mania or depression.

Our library of bipolar resources will help you explore the ins and outs of bipolar. We encourage you to take your time with these resources, print out things you'd like to read more carefully, and bring anything you have additional questions about to your family doctor or a mental health professional.

The good news is that bipolar disorder is readily treated nowadays with psychiatric medications and psychotherapy. Treatment for bipolar disorder is effective and helps most people keep a balanced mood throughout their day. Continue reading this introduction to bipolar disorder...

Symptoms of BipolarSymptoms of Bipolar Disorder
What are the symptoms doctors and therapists use to diagnose bipolar disorder? Are they different for children?


Getting Help Getting Help
Help and treatment for bipolar is just a click away. But you have to make the choice to do so -- nobody can make it for you.
Helping Someone With Bipolar
Depression and mania are common components of bipolar disorder. Here are some ways to help someone with those depression and mania symptoms.
Bipolar in People Bipolar in People
Bipolar disorder affects different groups of people differently. You can learn more -- and read people's blogs -- about how various folks cope and live with bipolar.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the basic facts about bipolar? Where can you go to learn the answers for people's most commonly asked questions about bipolar disorder and mania?


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 1 Feb 2016
    Published on All rights reserved.