Manic depression (also known as bipolar affective disorder, Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive disorder) is a mental illness. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience episodes of an elevated or agitated mood known as mania, alternating with episodes of depression. These episodes can impair the individual's ability to function in ordinary life. About 4% of people have bipolar disorder worldwide, a proportion that is consistent for men and women and across racial and ethnic groups. The cause is not clearly understood, but genetic and environmental risk factors are believed to play a role. Treatment commonly includes therapy and mood stabilizing medication.
There are widespread problems with social stigma, stereotypes, and prejudice against individuals with bipolar disorder.
Signs and symptoms
Mania is the defining feature of bipolar disorder, and can occur with different levels of severity. At milder levels of mania, known as hypomania, individuals appear energetic, excitable, and may be highly productive. As mania becomes more severe, individuals begin to behave erratically and impulsively, often making poor decisions due to unrealistic ideas about the future, and sleep very little. At the most severe level, individuals can experience very distorted beliefs about the world known as psychosis. Individuals who experience manic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes; some experience a mixed state in which features of both mania and depression are present at the same time. Manic and depressive episodes last from a few days to several months.