Bipolar DisorderBipolar Disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is a diagnosis in psychiatry referring to mania (or hypomania or mixed states) alternating with clinical depression (or depressed or euthymic mood) over a significant period of time. Unlike highs and lows a normal person might experience, one with bipolar disorder experiences extreme mood swings that can last for minutes to months. Mood changes of this nature are associated with distress and disruption, and a relatively high risk of suicide. There have also been links to high functioning, notably regarding hypomania ('below mania') and creativity. More often than not, people with bipolar disorder are above average in creativity, perseverance, and sometimes intelligence. Countless writers, musicians, artists, scientists, performers, poets, and other creative talents have been diagnosed with some form of bipolar disorder, and some even attribute it to their creativity. Both the natural drive for success and flight of ideas in the state of mania and hypomania are linked directly to many creative motives. Some people who suffer from bipolar disorder have mixed states often, where they feel depressed and 'blue', but unlike clinical depression one in a mixed state may still feel 'always high'. It is one of the signature characteristics of bipolar disorder. They may have creative energy, racing thoughts, but a constant negative feeling. These two extremes combined can often lead to anxiety. This is one of the reasons that many people with bipolar disorder also suffer from panic disorder.
Aspects of bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder (sometimes known as Manic-Depressive Disorder differs from Clinical Depression is that clinical depression in itself is a form of unipolar disorder (with mania being the flipside to that coin), while bipolar disorder causes, amongst other things, severe mood cycling throughout the lifetime of a person suffering from the disorder. Mood cycles can last from months to years in duration, with periods of relative "normalcy" in between episodes, and as a general rule, episodes almost always begin in either the spring or fall months, when the amount of daylight is either increasing or decreasing (daylight and sleep patterns have great effect on bipolar cycles). Some indicators of the onset of a bipolar episode include changes in sleep patterns, activity level, social rhythms and cognitive functioning, and in the most severe states of mania, hallucinations and delusions can occur.
People with bipolar disorder are about three times as likely to commit suicide as those suffering from major depression (12% to 30%). Although many people with bipolar disorder who attempt suicide never actually complete it, the annual average suicide rate in males and females with diagnosed bipolar disorder (0.4%) is 10 to more than 20 times that in the general population.
Individuals with bipolar disorder tend to become suicidal, especially during mixed states such as dysphoric mania and agitated depression.