Bipolar disorder has been in the news recently since singer Mariah Carey revealing her diagnosis. As it happens, other celebrities have battled bipolar including Demi Lovato and Jean-Claude Van Damme. As with most mental illnesses, there is a stigma attached because many people do not understand what happens to people with the disorder, how they perceive the world and how they manage their symptoms. There is a new acceptance of mental health happening, and it could be due to celebs being upfront about their struggles, but bipolar disorder is still misunderstood by many.
The disorder presents differently in different patients, but the textbook appearance is an alternating pattern of being very up, hyper and energetic. This is called mania. In a manic phase, which can last days or even weeks, patients are often talking fast, making outrageous plans and might even be delusional. When a manic state recedes, very often patients suffer bouts of severe depression and can become suicidal. The cycle of ups and downs is incredibly hard on patients and their families, and so far, medication is not that effective for some patients.