What are Bipolar Disorders?
Bipolar disorders are serious mental health conditions characterised by marked swings of mood. They are the cause of serious long term and recurrent disability. The extremes of mood vary from those of an elated, euphoric mood (mania) to those of very low, depressed mood (depression).
The term depression in this context refers to a degree of unhappiness and low mood, which is out of proportion to the circumstances in which it occurs and is usually prolonged. People with Bipolar disorders often alternate between episodes of very high mood and very low mood. Between episodes of elevated mood and depression many people with this condition may have normal mood. One third however may have residual symptoms between episodes causing varying degrees of disability, in some disability is severe.
The condition is known by a number of other names. The term “affect” means mood and the condition is also known as Bipolar Affective disorder. In addition it is also called manic depression, manic-depressive illness, manic- depressive psychosis, mania and hypomania (hypomania is a less severe form of mania).
There are a number of different criteria defining Bipolar disorders, but the essential feature is that there should have been at least one episode of abnormally elevated mood (mania/hypomania).