Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in thinking, energy, behavior, and sleep. Also known as manic depression, the disorder gets its name from the highs and lows – the opposite mood “poles” (like the North and South Poles). People with this disorder can have periods in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods in which they feel very sad, sluggish and hopeless. In between those periods, they feel normal.

In bipolar disorder, the dramatic high and low mood episodes do not follow a set pattern. Someone may feel the same mood (manic or depressed) state several times before switching to the opposite mood.

Symptoms of mania (the highs):

  • Increased energy and less need for sleep
  • Excessive happiness, hopefulness and excitement
  • Unusually high sex drive
  • Making grand and unrealistic plans
  • Becoming more impulsive
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Showing poor judgment
  • Rapid sleep and poor concentration

Symptoms of depressive periods (the lows):

  • Loss of energy
  • Sadness
  • Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Not enjoying things they once liked
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Bipolar normally begins in late adolescence or young adulthood. Rarely, it can happen earlier in childhood and can run in families. There is no single cause. Genes, brain changes, and stress can all play a vital role in this disorder.


Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition that requires ongoing care. Ongoing treatment is more effective than dealing with problems as they occur. The main treatment usually involves “mood stabilizers” and may require antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants. A combination of medications and psychotherapy or “talk therapy” is often recommended. People who have substance abuse problems may require more specialized treatment.

To learn more about bipolar disorder treatment at NH Hospital in Houston, Texas, call us at (281) 397-1530.