Characteristics of Bipolar

The Highs

People often think of mania as a really good mood that lasts a long time, but that's not always the case. Mania can cause elation and bursts of creative energy, but it also robs you of the ability to keep up with your thoughts, keeps you up all night and hinders your judgment. Mania makes some people angry and irritable.

The Lows

Real depression leaves you drained of energy, hopeless and wracked with guilt. You may sleep or eat too much or too little or think about suicide.

Mixed States

In a mixed state, you have characteristics of both mania and depression. This may be the most dangerous state, because you may feel suicidal and reckless at the same time, increasing your risk of death.


Manic and depressive episodes can last several months, and you don't always go straight from high to low. There are often long periods when you feel normal.

Some people have rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. It's defined as having at least four mood swings in a year, but some people cycle in a matter of hours.


People with bipolar disorder often have impaired judgment, leading to excessive spending, dangerous sexual activity or drug and alcohol abuse. Simply put, bipolar disorder is an illness of extreme highs and lows. It goes far beyond simply feeling sad one day and happy the next, though---bipolar disorder is a complex illness with complex characteristics.