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Bipolar Disorder Health Center

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Bipolar Disorder - What Happens

With 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.

Recommended Related to Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Episodes With Mixed Features

Mixed features refers to the presence of high and low symptoms occurring at the same time, or as part of a single episode, in people experiencing an episode of mania or depression. In most forms of bipolar disorder, moods alternate between elevated and depressed over time. A person with mixed features experiences symptoms of both mood "poles" -- mania and depression -- simultaneously or in rapid sequence. 

Read the Bipolar Episodes With Mixed Features article > >

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 women-may have 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

These illnesses need to be treated along with bipolar disorder.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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