University Life Café

The Bookshelf → Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression

Preview Points

  • Bipolar disorder leads to sharp changes in moods, from very high highs to very low feelings of hopelessness. A person may veer from mania (highs) to depression (lows). Elevated mood levels are a common feature of bipolar disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder may result in difficult relationships and difficulties functioning in work and school lives.
  • Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, may also lead to suicide.
  • People with bipolar disorder may also experience sudden rage or irritability.


Bipolar disorder, a brain disorder, affects a person’s “mood, energy, and ability to function.” It may lead a person to grandiose delusions , with people imagining that they have “special connections with God, celebrities, or political leaders” (American Psychiatric Association, 2005, n.p.).

Mania: The manic phase of this condition may also lead people to think that they have invincible or overly capable. These beliefs may lead to risk-taking. Manic depression may result in hyperactivity or the inability to relax. Some may experience uncontrollable racing thoughts and rapid speech. Others may find less of a need for sleep.

Depression: In the depressed phase, the person may feel “helpless, hopeless, and worthless.” They lose energy and feel fatigued. They no longer find former interests that enjoyable. They may sleep a lot, or they may not sleep at all. They may experience sharp changes in their eating habits, with a jump in appetite and weight gain, or a decline in appetite and a substantial weight loss. They may not be able to concentrate clearly. They may have thoughts of death or suicide.

The Wikipedia entry reads: “Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder include persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, or hopelessness; disturbances in sleep and appetite; fatigue and loss of interest in usually enjoyed activities; problems concentrating; loneliness, self-loathing, apathy or indifference; depersonalization; loss of interest in sexual activity; shyness or social anxiety; irritability, chronic pain (with or without a known cause); lack of motivation; and morbid suicidal ideation[1] In severe cases, the individual may become psychotic, a condition also known as severe bipolar depression with psychotic features” (“Bipolar disorder,” Dec. 5, 2008, n.p.)

Some people who suffer from bipolar disorder may experience psychotic symptoms, including hallucinations (seeing or hearing phenomena that do not exist in reality) and delusions (false beliefs that do not originate from logical reasoning).

A fifth of all patients with bipolar disorder have their first episode during adolescence.

The causes of bipolar are multiple causes. Extreme stress, sleep disruption, and drugs and alcohol may be environmental factors that contribute to manic depression. Treatment is possible under the care of licensed, mental health professionals.

Concluding Points

  • Bipolar affects people’s energy levels, by either giving them a sense of extremely high or extremely low energy.
  • The manic phase involves hyperactivity; the depressive phase involves a sense of energy loss and fatigue.
  • Bipolar disorder affects people’s decision-making and their sense of the world.
  • Bipolar disorder or manic depression is treatable by professionals.


Let’s talk facts about bipolar disorder (manic depression). (2005). American Psychiatric Association.
“Bipolar disorder.” (2008, Dec. 5). Wikipedia. Retrieved Dec. 5, 2008, at .

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Gunit has no avatar

Gunit says:

Ok, so how do I tell if I am bipolar, or if my nutrition is just screwed up? Also, I party a couple of times a week? Is my up and down mood bipolar or am I just drinking too much?

Posted on Jun 09, 2009

stargate24 has no avatar

stargate24 says:

While there is nothing inaccurate with this article it does leave out an important aspect to bipolar. Bipolar is generally thought of as a spectrum. On the low side you find things like cyclothymia and on the extreme side you find Bipolar I disorder. If you are not familiar with these, it basically comes down to the severity of the moods. In practice this means you may find some rare people that are normally psychotic without their medication and are barely able to function when they are on their medication. And on the low side, you may find individuals finding significant difficulties periodically without medication. This article also doesn't give a good feeling for the length of time that the moods persist when someone is suffering from bipolar. Generally they will need to be on the order of weeks to months. There is ultra rapid cycling, which is where an individual can change moods in the matter of hours or minutes. However, what distinguishes this from normal mood that changes throughout the day is one of extremes and how one responds to stimuli. For Gunit and anyone else reading this, you definitely cannot self diagnosis yourself as bipolar. You need to seek professional help if you are experiencing significant impairment and/or difficulties in life because of your mood. Btw, messing with your sleep patterns and abusing alcohol can lead normal people to have pretty messed up moods. Take care of yourself!

Posted on Jan 20, 2010

johnsontwin has no avatar

johnsontwin says:

I start to read this becasue i've been called bipolarso many tome. And as i continue reading i have most of these symptoms it's kind of surprising because i could have taken my own life..i dont like being in one place by myself but leave me alone i'll have suicidal thoughts?? can someone explain to m what i should do? should i attend to a doctor to be sure if i have it or not?

Posted on Mar 04, 2010

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