What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. It’s characterized by severe mood shifts from depression to mania, severe enough that they impair a person’s ability to function. It shows up in about 1% of the world’s population, and about 2.6% of Americans. The mood swings don’t have to do with poor emotional control, or with normal, appropriate fluctuations in mood. We used to call it “manic depression,” but that’s not really a accurate name. "Manic depression" makes it sound like it’s a type of depression, but really the whole deal with bipolar disorder is the swing between the two exaggerated emotional states.
Bipolar disorder can be frightening to deal with, and distressing to be around. The severity varies from person to person. Honestly, severity can come and go for one person. At its best, it's easily dealt with. At its worst - and left untreated - it can get pretty severe. But the good news is that there are medicines and therapies that can help, and many people with bipolar disorder lead fulfilling, successful lives.
Image: Josh Felise, via Unsplash.