bipolar disorder, you go back and forth between highs and lows of
mania and depression. In between, you may return completely to normal
or have some remaining symptoms. The extreme mood changes may come on suddenly
or appear more slowly.
During a manic episode, you may go from feeling abnormally happy and productive to behaving irresponsibly and sleeping very little. After this manic high, your mood may return to normal. Or it may swing in the opposite direction. You may feel useless and extremely sad. And you may lose interest in things you've enjoyed in the past.
The bipolar spectrum is a term used to refer to conditions of many people with depression, substance abuse, and a wide range of other psychiatric conditions who also have some symptoms of bipolar disorder. Although they have these similar symptoms, they are not diagnosed with bipolar disorder as it is commonly defined. Some psychiatrists find the concept useful. But since it has not been rigorously studied it hasn't been widely adopted.
Men tend to have more manic highs, and women tend to have more lows of depression.3
At first, stress may trigger depression or
mania. But as the illness progresses, mood swings may not be caused by any
specific event. Without treatment, your bipolar disorder may get worse. This can cause
you to move more often between mania and depression.
Other health problems
People with bipolar disorder—men more often than
substance abuse problems, especially during manic
episodes.4 Abusing alcohol or drugs may affect
treatment and interfere with taking medicines as prescribed. Other disorders
that may occur along with this disorder include:5