Bipolar disorder, also known as bipolar affective disorder, manic-depressive disorder, or manic depression, is a serious illness that causes changes in mood, energy, and the ability to function. People with this disorder experience periods of a frenzied mood known as mania or manic episodes. The manic episodes can vary immensely in their level of seriousness and can range from feeling energetic, excitable, and highly productive to erratic and impulsive behavior with a distorted view of reality.
Many people with bipolar disorder also experience periods of depression, but some do not. Manic and depressive episodes can last from a few days to months. Only about 4% of the population is bipolar and genetics contribute to an individual’s likelihood of developing the disorder. There is no simple test to confirm bipolar disorder and the diagnosis is often a difficult one, even for mental health professionals.