Bipolar disorder is perhaps one of the most tragic mood disorders today, because it virtually taunts with the affected person's mind. Bipolar disorder also known as manic depressive disorder is a mental condition in which the person alternates between feelings of mania and depression. These feeling are extreme opposites, and thus create tremendous mental and physical stress on the person affected. This unfortunate disorder affects one to two percent of the adult population. Before bipolar disorder can b e fully understood, the two main mood stages must first be identified. During an endless bout with bipolar disorder, a person experiences many stages of mania and depression.

Different symptoms of mania included an increase in energy or activity, rapid speech, excessive excitement, extreme irritability and distractibility, a decrease in the amount of sleep needed, uncommonly poor judgment, or increased sex drive, denial, overspending, and high risk behavior. All of these symptoms may not be prevalent in a bipolar disorder patient, however, the more severe the case, the more likely all symptoms may occur. A depressed episode includes the opposite characteristics, including a persistent sad or empty feeling, decreased energy, loss of interest in activities normally enjoyed, difficulty concentrating, change in appetite or body weight, and thoughts of suicide. There are also two less severe stages in bipolar disorder a patient may go through, which are mixed episodes and hypomanic episodes. A mixed episode contains characteristics of both manic and depressive stages occurring at the same time. Mixed episodes are the most difficult to treat, because different types of medicines are necessary for mania.

A hypomanic episode is characterized by less severe, less constraining symptoms of mania. Doctors often overlook hypomanic episodes. When a person experiences a combination of four episodes within a year the person is considered to be going through rapid cycling. Often times, patients need combinations of drugs, which take a while to deci per, so it often takes about a month to find the correct prescription for somone.

Mood stabilizers are mainly used for episodes of mania or hypomanic and sometimes for mixed episodes. Currently scientists and psychotherapists are trying to determine how bipolar disorder is caused. Studies have determined that bipolar can run in families, so the disorder is genetic. Unfortunately, though doctors have not yet found any other causes. Psychotherapists often do psychoanalysis of bipolar patients to find if anything that occurred earlier in their les led to the disorder.