Why is bipolar disorder called that

Psychiatry, Psychosomatics & Psychotherapy

What is Bipolar Disease?

Bipolar disorders are severe, chronic mental illnesses that are characterized by manic and depressive mood swings. The mania presents itself as an exaggerated feeling of excitement and those affected are mostly overactive, euphoric or irritable at the same time. This phase is followed by more or less pronounced depression, with a depressed mood, listlessness and sadness. The mood swings occur episodically and independently of the current life situation.

If the mood swings are personality traits without serious consequences for the person concerned and the environment, one speaks of "cyclothymia". However, if these phases are more pronounced, i.e. longer phases of depression alternate with manic phases with high spirits, significantly increased thirst for action and irritability, which have negative consequences for the person concerned, one speaks of manic-depressive illness.

It is estimated that around 1 to 3% of the population is affected. Women and men get sick with the same frequency. Many patients experience their first episode of the disease around the age of 18, but the disorder is usually only recognized later.

The causes of the disease are not fully understood. Hereditary predisposition and external influences such as stressful events seem to play a certain role. An above-average number of creative people suffer from bipolar illness.

Technical support: Prof. Dr. Gregor Hasler, Bern (SGPP) and Prof. Dr. med. Michael Bauer, Dresden (DGPPN), Dr. Roger Pycha, Bruneck (SIP)