What is Bipolar Disorder? Formerly known as manic depression, this term ‘bipolar’ has started to
become more of a mainstream term. But how do we understand Bipolar Disorder? What does it really
look like in relation to symptom presentation?
Bipolar Disorder has two primary components: mania and depression. Although there are variations of
Bipolar Disorder, today we are going to focus on the typical bipolar presentation. When in the manic
phase of Bipolar Disorder, a person may experience such symptoms as elated mood, increased energy
level, decreased need for sleep and racing thoughts. While at first glance, these symptoms may not
appear to be so severe, they can often lead to other behaviors that can negatively impact an individual.
For example, racing thoughts can often lead to impulsivity and potentially poor decision making. In
addition, an elated mood can quickly progress to irritability, which can negatively impact your

One’s moods can swing like a pendulum; quickly moving from mania to depression. When in a
depressed state, a person’s energy level can appear depleted and they may exhibit fatigue, sleep issues
and feelings of sadness. Just as mania can impact a person’s decisions, so can depression. This often
occurs due to issues related to concentration and distractibility. This can lead to feelings of frustration
and negative self-talk.
This cycle of mania and depression can be devastating to an individual as it can impact a person’s self-
concept and relationships. This can lead to feeling like your life is spinning out of control. So how do you
take this control back? It starts with asking for help. When we seek out help through therapy, it is an
important first step in a person’s healing process. Through therapy, a person can learn symptom
management strategies, improved communication skills and develop more adaptive coping abilities to
make the kind of change that you want to see in your life.

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