Q: How is bipolar disorder different from depression?
A: Bipolar depression, when it manifests as depression, is more severe and more recurrent than major depression. It also tends to have an earlier age of onset than depression. On average, people with this disorder are symptomatic half of all the weeks of their lives, with one quarter of that time in a manic state and three quarters in depression.
Q: What are the defining characteristics of this disorder?
A: In the manic phase: elated or irritable mood, decreased need for sleep, grandiosity, distractibility, high energy, pressure of speech, racingthoughts, impulsive or risky behavior.In depression: sad mood, loss of interest, suicidal feelings, fatigue, insomnia, inability to concentrate or make decisions, and feelings of worthlessness.
Q: Is there any upside to bipolar disorder?
A: There is some evidence that this disorder is associated with creativity and artistic talent. The challenge is to keep the mania under control while allowing an outlet for ones creativity. That can be a tough balance to maintain.