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Bipolar disorder is a mental illness. Approximately 8 million American adults may be affected by bipolar disorder. It is characterized by episodes of depression (extreme lows or bipolar depression) and mania (extreme highs or bipolar mania).
Bipolar disorder affects all types of people
If you have bipolar disorder, you’re not alone. In the United States, estimates suggest about 8 million American adults may be affected by this serious mental illness. Bipolar disorder impacts both men and women of all ethnic groups.
While this illness can cause extreme mood swings, most people with bipolar disorder spend more time in the depressive phase than the manic or hypomanic phase when they are ill or symptomatic (in other words, when they are symptomatic, they experience more “lows”—or bipolar depression—than “highs”).
Bipolar depression facts
Extreme lows, or bipolar depression, can be so overwhelming that it can take the joy out of life. You may lose interest in things and activities you once enjoyed. You may feel extremely sad, worthless, or guilty. You may also appear restless or have trouble thinking. Bipolar depression will not just go away on its own; left untreated, it can lead to thoughts of death and suicide. But with treatment, for many people, bipolar depression symptoms can be managed, just as the symptoms of other chronic illnesses—such as asthma or high blood pressure—can be managed.
Bipolar mania facts
Bipolar mania is an “extreme high” mood. During a manic high, people feel unusually euphoric. It’s common to be overly talkative, have lots of energy, and need little sleep. Some people experience extreme irritability or an increased sex drive, or engage in provocative or intrusive behavior.
- Get more information about what bipolar disorder is, how it can affect your life, and how it can be managed. Learn what to expect.