Characteristics of Bipolar Disorder


An individual with bipolar disorder, a mental illness sometimes known as manic depression, can display many of the same symptoms as people other mental illnesses. However, bipolar disorder is characterized by the particular mix of symptoms experienced by those who have it. As its name implies, the two major characteristics of bipolar disorder are at opposite end of the mood spectrum: mania (or hypomania) and depression.

Mania and Hypomania

Mania is an unusually elevated mood that persists for an extended period of time, accompanied by symptoms such as a decreased need for sleep, increased energy, inflated self-esteem, racing thoughts, physical agitation, anger or irritability, hypersexuality, and involvement in risky behaviors.

Hypomania may include the same symptoms as mania, but with decreased severity. While mania is an untenable state, hypomania can often be maintained without severely impacting daily functioning in a negative way.


Depression is a persistent low or sad mood accompanied by a variety of other symptoms. These symptoms may include loss of interest in once pleasurable activities, changes in weight and/or appetite, changes in sleep habits (too much or too little sleep), loss of energy, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death or suicide.

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