What is Bipolar Disorder?

More than 2 million American adults have bipolar disorder, a type of mental illness marked by severe episodes of mania and depression, often with long periods of normality in between.

Could you have bipolar disorder?

  1. I sometimes have very rapid mood swings- lots of energy or feeling very happy, then feeling hopeless and helpless- followed by a period of feeling normal. Yes or No
  1. I sometimes feel much more confident, talk more quickly or am more outgoing than normal. Yes or No
  1. Friends and family say I seem reckless and out of control sometimes. Yes or No
  1. I worry my mood swings are so intense that they affect my work or my relationships. Yes or No
  1. I have had thoughts of killing myself. Yes or No


If you answered "yes" to these questions, you may have bipolar disorder. Bipolar sufferers may have severe highs and lows; then weeks, months or even years of near-normal life may pass before the next episode. Untreated, these episodes tend to increase in frequency. Some people with bipolar disorder become suicidal; the risk appears to be higher early in the course of the illness, so recognition and early treatment are important.

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