What is Bipolar affective disorder or manic depression?

Bipolar affective disorder is a mental disorder also known as manic depression where a person experiences rapid and irregular mood swings. Usually two types of mood swings are observed in people with this disorder:

i. Depression, or manic-depression

ii. High excitement, or mania characterized by elated mood

During depressive state, the level of depression is way too intense than ordinary humans. Same is the case for High excitement period. The bipolar effective disorder has different characteristics in different patients. Some people might even spend several months in the mania stage while others may have frequent and intense mood fluctuations.

The disorder affects the victim’s brain and alters their behavior, so it is categorized as a mental illness. As a result, various irregular chemical processes occur within the brain and alters the hippocampus areas of the brain. This leads to alteration to the physical structure of the brain.

A survey revealed that more than 1% people in the total population suffers from bipolar effective disorder at least one time in their lives. The disorder is easily cured during the initial stages. When the patient reaches the mania or depressive stage, diagnosis becomes tougher as they will have already suffered for years. Since the mood swings are so recurrent, the patient will have difficulty to perform their daily activities and have relationship issues.


Diagnosis of bipolar effective disorder is dependent on the symptoms the patients reveal. Patients may reveal one mood type for several months. There are two classifications of this mental disease:

  1. Bipolar I disorder: A patient with this type of bipolar disorder has continuous mood fluctuations and any one manic episode otherwise known as elated mood. They experience at least one major stage of depression.


  1. Bipolar II disorder: Mania or one major period of depression is displayed in patients. In type II bipolar disorder, the patients behave like an ordinary human being. At this point, the elation or excitement is not that severe and it does not alter their decision making abilities or daily activities.


A comprehensive analysis of the patient’s medical history is essential for a proper diagnosis. There might be other factors in the patient that might cause depression or mania. A medical history of the patient’s family is a good way to find out if the mental illness was inherited from a family member. Approximately one to two million Americans suffer from either Bipolar I disorder or Bipolar II disorder at least one in their life. Researches showed that bipolar effective disorder does not affect people of different race or ethnicity differently. However, bipolar II disorder is more widespread in women. Bipolar I disorder has equal effect on both men and women. Newer and improved treatment methods are available currently. A proper medical cure for bipolar disorder is not available till date. Maybe someday technology will develop further and discover the disease from blood samples.


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