Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depressive illness) is a condition of the brain that causes extreme changes in a person’s thinking, mood, energy levels and overall behavior. This mental health condition affects around 2 % of the population. It was once known as manic depression because people tend to experience extreme moods – both depressed (low), and high or excited (manic).
While the causes of bipolar disorder are not fully known, a combination of genetic and other factors are usually associated with its development. As with other mental health conditions, a family history of bipolar disorder increases the likelihood of someone developing the condition at some stage in their life.
People with bipolar disorder experience extreme highs and lows. In a high (manic) state, people may behave in a reckless way. Their thoughts, speech and movements speed up and they may have difficulty focusing on tasks, feeling frustrated and irritable. On the other hand, the symptoms of a low or depressed state are like those for people experiencing depression. These include feeling low or sad, detaching from friends and family, and losing interest in hobbies and pleasures.