Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder—commonly known as manic-depressive illness—is a brain disorder that causes extensive changes in a person's mood, energy and ability to function.

  • Bipolar I disorder is the most severe form of the illness and consists of alternating periods of mania and depression.
  • In comparison, Bipolar II disorder consists of alternating periods of recurrent depression and less intense episodes of mania, called hypomania.

Alcohol and drug abuse are common among people suffering from bipolar disorder, and studies have shown there may also be an increased tendency for anxiety disorders, as well.

People often suffer for years before bipolar disorder is properly diagnosed and treated. Once diagnosed, most people can respond to treatment that combines medication, education and support.

The goals of treatment are to stabliize the acute episode and to prevent the recurrence of future episodes.

Signs and symptoms of Hypomania/Mania

  • Increased energy or activity
  • A sense of euphoria
  • Little need for sleep
  • Impulsive spending
  • Irritability
  • Unrealistic behavior
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Increased sexual interests/activities
  • Poor judgment
  • Risky behavior/Aggressive behavior
  • Psychosis (severe cases)

Signs and symptoms of Depression

  • Pervasive feelings of sadness/low mood
  • Little interest/pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Hopelessness/pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Changes in appetite or diet
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

For more information on physicians and services at UCLA, please call our Physician Referral Service at (800) UCLA-MD1 or (310) 825-2631. For UCLA Neuropsychiatric and Behavioral Services, contact our ACCESS Center at (800) 825-9989 or (310) 825-9989.

Service available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (PST) to assist you.

In an emergency dial 911