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  • Writer's pictureMed Insider

What to Know about Bipolar Disorder

By Yuan Cheng


  • BPD is caused by environmental and genetic factors

  • Includes periods of excessive “highs” and “lows”


BPD, or Bipolar Disorder, is a disorder that causes huge, weeks-long mood swings between depressive states of hopelessness and manic episodes characterized by the feeling of euphoria and irritability. Around 1.4% of Americans suffer from BPD; statistics show that there are three times as many women than men who are afflicted by the disorder, though this could be attributed to the misdiagnosis of BPD in men as other mental health issues.


Both genetics and childhood can impact the development of BPD. Those who have direct relatives with BPD are more likely to develop it themselves, though it is temporarily unclear which gene causes BPD. Those who experienced childhood trauma (e.g. emotional and physical abuse and neglect) might develop BPD as well.

The irregular way that parts of the brain responsible for judgment and emotional responses communicate with one another is the neurological cause behind BPD, scientists suggest.



There are different categories of BPD symptoms. Those diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder has had at least 1 manic episode with a potential depressive period following afterwards; those with Bipolar II disorder experience a longer and more severe depressive period, a hypomanic (i.e. a weaker mania and lasts for several days) episode, and no manic episodes. Cyclothymic Disorder is identified by at least 2 years of alternating hypomanic and depressive episodes; there are other types attributable to substance abuse and health issues.

Some symptoms of BPD are as follows:

  1. Mania and Hypomania (feelings of abnormal energy and inability to focus or think clearly, suddenly heightened sense of self-esteem, fast-paced speech, higher irritability, etc.)

  2. Depressive episodes (feelings of guilt, hopelessness, worthlessness, drastic attitude change towards people one knows, paranoia enforced by stress, apathy towards previously interested activities, weight loss, insomnia/too much sleep, inability to focus or decide, etc.)


Treatments include going to see a professional, taking prescribed medications such as mood stabilizers (lithium, anticonvulsant medicines, antipsychotic medicines) or antidepressants, temporary hospitalization depending on the severity of the symptoms, and psychotherapy, etc.

Changing lifestyle choices such as exercise frequency, sleep schedule, activities planned and such can all help mitigate BPD. Familiarizing oneself with triggers and stressors is also important.


Interesting Fact

In 1938, the majority of the diagnosis requirement for BPD was published by a psychoanalyst named Adolph Stern.



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