Bipolar Disorder: Symptom and Causes


The symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on whether a person is in a manic phase or a depressed phase. These phases may last from days to months. In rare cases, manic and depressed symptoms occur at the same time or in fast succession. This is called a mixed episode.
Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include:
Mood changes
  • A long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood
  • Extreme irritability
Behavioural Changes
  • Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Increasing activities, such as taking on new projects
  • Being overly restless
  • Sleeping little or not being tired
  • Having an unrealistic belief in ones abilities
  • Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviours
Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include:
Mood Changes
  • An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
Behavioural Changes
  • Feeling tired or "slowed down"
  • Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Being restless or irritable
  • Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
  • Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide
On average, someone with bipolar disorder may have up to three years of normal mood between episodes of mania or depression.


The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several factors seem to be involved in causing and triggering bipolar episodes:
  • Genetics
  • Biological differences
  • An imbalance in naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters
  • Stress, abuse, significant loss or other traumatic experiences may play a role in bipolar disorder

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