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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder involving swings in mood, usually between overly "high" or irritable, and extreme sadness and hopeless. There are usually some periods of normal mood in between.

It accounts for 20-25% of all the major mood disorders seen in the U.S. population. It occurs about equally between men and women. Approximately half of the cases begin before the age of 25, so it can be important for college students to be aware of it.

What are the signs of Bipolar Disorder?
There are different types of this disorder:

  • Bipolar I - includes more episodes of extreme upswings in mood (mania), followed by depression or a return to normal mood. In addition, the presence of either delusions or hallucinations may also be present.
  • Bipolar II - consists of more episodes of significant depression, with milder upswings (a hypomanic state).

There also can be a mixed variety, in which the depressed and manic symptoms occur simultaneously. There are many variations in how quickly people cycle between the differences in moods, as well as the frequency of episodes. Severe stress is often at blame for triggering an episode of mood swings.


  • Greatly increased energy and/or restlessness
  • Extreme irritability
  • Racing thoughts
  • Rapid speech that is hard to interrupt
  • Poor concentration, memory and indecisiveness
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Restlessness and/or anxiety
  • Excessive feeling of well being
  • Unrealistic or grandiose belief in own abilities
  • Reckless, impulsive behavior
  • Abuse of substances
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Delusions, hallucinations, and/or paranoia
  • In severe cases, thoughts of death or suicide


  • Feelings of hopelessness or excessive guilt
  • Persistence of sad mood or feeling "empty"
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Loss of energy and increased fatigue
  • Poor self care and hygiene
  • Insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Poor concentration, memory and indecisiveness
  • Restlessness and/or anxiety
  • Abuse of substances
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • In severe cases, thoughts of death or suicide

Without proper management, Bipolar Disorder can create havoc in a person's academic and work life, as well as personal relationships. Lots of stress can also occur for friends and family, as they go through the consequences of the mood swings.

Bipolar Disorder, like many medical conditions, does not get cured, but can be controlled with medications and counseling. People diagnosed with this problem often find it helpful to be in behavioral therapy to help them learn ways to manage their moods, and maintain an effective daily regimen with their medicine.

NNU Counseling Center: For appointments dial (208) 467-8466