Bipolar disorder, which is also known as manic depressive illness, is a mental condition where a person experiences strong depressive (“down”) and manic (“up”) episodes.
There is no “in-between” state: there is only depression and mania.
The depressive episodes are characterized by the symptoms of depression:
• Lack of energy
• Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
• Difficulty thinking
• Thoughts of suicide
The manic episodes are completely different from the depressive episodes:
• Very high energy
• Racing thoughts
• Using money irresponsibly
• Exaggerated ideas of your own abilities
• Involving yourself in dangerous or foolhardy activities because you didn’t think things through
There are also other symptoms that often appear with bipolar, such as problems paying attention, memory issues, and difficulty making and following plans.
Social Security’s Listing of Impairments has bipolar has a disability under section 12.04, which covers mood disorders. Bipolar disorder is defined as a condition that causes both depressive episodes and manic episodes. The episodes should be severe enough to markedly interfere with social functioning, concentration, ability to be financially responsible, and general daily living.
Treatment of bipolar disorder is focused on managing it through medication and therapy.