Bipolar disorder used to be called ‘manic depression’. As the older name suggests, someone with bipolar disorder will have severe mood swings. These usually last several weeks or months and are far beyond what most of us experience. They are:
Low or ‘depresive’ – Feelings of intense depression and despair
High or ‘manic’ – feelings of extreme happiness and despair
Mixed – for example, depressed mood with the restlessness and over activity of a manic episode
About 1 in every 100 adults has bipolar disorder at some point in their life. It usually starts during or after the teenage years. It is unusual for it to start after the age of 40. Men and women are affected equally.
It used to be thought that if an individual had bipolar disorder, they would return to normal in between mood swings. It is now known that this is not so for many people with bipolar disorder. They may continue to experience mild depressive symptoms and problems in thinking even when they seem to be better.