What Is Bipolar Disorder? - Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:06 Bipolar Disorder
  • 1:35 Mania
  • 3:12 Types of Bipolar Disorder
  • 4:38 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Studying the mood disorder called bipolar disorder can help you understand how persons with this disorder cycle through extreme moods of depression and mania. Explore bipolar disorder in this lesson, and test your understanding with a quiz.

Bipolar Disorder

There's something wrong with Ronni. She sometimes feels really depressed for a while and is overcome with sadness. She eats all the time, sleeps too much and isn't really interested in anything at all. But then, after a while of feeling depressed, Ronni will all of a sudden switch completely. She feels energized and loses her appetite. She barely sleeps at all but doesn't feel tired. Her thoughts race, and she talks a mile a minute.

What's going on? Ronni might be suffering from bipolar disorder, also called manic depression, a mood disorder that involves cycling between depression and mania. Mood disorders involve a disturbance in one's emotional reactions or feelings. Mostly, this means that a person is feeling more or less than usual.

At some times in our life, we have all felt very depressed, and there may have been times when we have felt excited or energized like mania. But for most of us, when we are depressed or euphoric, we generally know why. We can attribute our depression or our mania to something that has happened to us, like a relative passing away or getting the job we really wanted.

But someone with bipolar disorder might not have a reason for feeling the way they do. They just change moods no matter what's going on. Let's look closer at the types and treatments of bipolar disorder and what a manic state actually is.


Ronni has bipolar disorder. She switches between bouts of depression and periods of mania. But what exactly does that mean? What is mania? Many people think that manic patients are really happy and euphoric during their mania. This might be true, but there's more to it than just that.

Some manic patients feel irritable and hostile, for example, instead of happy and euphoric. Even more common are the patients who switch back and forth between euphoria and irritability during a manic phase.

So what is mania exactly? Besides happy or hostile moods, some common symptoms include:

Grandiose plans are often made. People in manic states might decide to start a business with no real plans or to run a marathon without having trained. People experiencing mania often have racing thoughts and rapid speech. They are also easily distracted. Little or no sleep and feeling like there's no need for it is another common symptom.

Sleep patterns vary from person to person, so the changes in sleep experienced during mania can vary. There can be a decrease in the hours of sleep needed. Persons can stay awake for extended periods of time. Inflated self-esteem is common and can become delusional so that a person harbors feelings of enormous grandeur and power. A patient might also display reckless behaviors, like indulging in foolish ventures, major spending sprees and sexual indiscretions.

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