What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder

This week, Kim Kardashian West posted a statement about her husband, musician Kanye West, and his struggle with Bipolar Disorder. In the post, she asked fans for compassion amid Kanye’s bizarre recent conduct.

Previously, in 2017, Kanye had announced his Bipolar diagnosis. To many, the mental illness is still quite mysterious. So what exactly is Bipolar Disorder?


Formerly called “Manic-Depressive Disorder,” clinical Bipolar Disorder is a behavioral condition which causes extreme mood swings. Those with Bipolar might experience extreme emotional highs (mania) followed by extreme emotional lows (depression).

During manic periods, those with Bipolar can feel euphoric, full of energy, and are easily excitable. While during depressive phases, patients suffer from extended periods of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in life. The swing between these extreme emotional states can have a huge impact on a person’s social and work life, sleep, eating habits, judgment, and ability to think clearly.

It’s important to note, however, that most people with Bipolar are not in a constant state of either mania or depression. Depending on the person, such episodes occur rarely or several times a year. Some might experience small emotional symptoms between episodes, while others may not experience any.

Is it permanent?

Bipolar is a lifelong condition, but most patients learn to manage mood swings and other symptoms through a treatment plan. Most people treat Bipolar with some combination of medications and in-person therapy.

Although Bipolar Disorder can afflict a person of any age, most with the condition are diagnosed in their teens or early 20s.

Mania and Hypomania

Mania is a state of heightened emotion, while hypomania is its less severe form. The two states are distinct, but they feature variants of identical symptoms. Hypomania, however, is harder to detect, as the signs are less pronounced. Symptoms include:

  • Being abnormally upbeat, jumpy or wired
  • Increased activity, energy or agitation
  • Exaggerated sense of well-being and self-confidence (euphoria)
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Poor decision-making (going on buying sprees, taking sexual risks, launching a presidential campaign).


The depressive state of Bipolar Disorder has the same symptoms as clinical depression. Symptoms of a depressive episode include:

  • Depressed mood, such as feeling sad, empty, hopeless or irritable
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in all activities
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain, or decrease/increase in appetite
  • Either insomnia or excessive sleep
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Either restlessness or slowed behavior
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Decreased ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness
  • Thinking about, planning or attempting suicide

Seeking Help

Many who suffer symptoms of depression don’t seek help. This is because it’s a difficult condition for a non-professional to recognize. But if you or a loved one are showing extreme emotional swings, you might want to seek a doctor’s counsel. Bipolar will not get better on its own.

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