THE BLOG
10/10/2014 11:23 am ET Updated Dec 10, 2014

National Bipolar Awareness Day: What You Should Know About Bipolar Disorder

In honor of World Mental Health Day and National Bipolar Awareness Day, learn more about the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder, and join The Jed Foundation and Demi Lovato in spreading awareness about living and thriving with mental illness, as part of The Mental Health Listening and Engagement Tour.

About Bipolar Disorder:
Bipolar disorder is a medical condition in which a person experiences extreme highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression). Also called manic-depression, it is more serious than the everyday ups and downs that most people experience. During a manic episode, a person's mood flies high -- they may be excessively excited, irritable, or aggressive, and people who are in a manic episode might not see anything wrong with their behavior. During a depressive period, all that manic energy disappears and that same person might feel sad, sluggish, or disinterested in previously enjoyable activities.

Bipolar disorder can manifest in a variety of mood patterns; some people might primarily have episodes of mania or of depression, or they may cycle between the two. It's also possible to remain symptom-free for extended periods of time.

Living with Bipolar Disorder:
Environmental factors such as stress, sleep disruption, and drug or alcohol use may also trigger manic-depressive episodes, so maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important -- proper nutrition and sleep, handling stress, finding a support network and psychotherapy can all help manage bipolar disorder.

The good news is that bipolar disorder is highly treatable with counseling and/or medication. You can manage your bipolar disorder and live a very fulfilling, healthy and successful life.

An inspiring example of this is recording artist, author, actress and mental health advocate Demi Lovato, who is helping to spread awareness about mental health issues, letting people know that they are not alone and that help is available. In this video from The Mental Health Listening and Engagement Tour, Demi Lovato shares her personal story and encourages young people to be their own mental health advocate -- speak up and find help if you or a friend is struggling.

Signs and Symptoms:
According to the Jed Foundation and MTV's "Half of Us" website, here are more signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder. If you or someone you know is displaying these symptoms, it is important to connect with help as soon as possible.

Symptoms of Bipolar Mania:
  • Excessively 'high,' euphoric mood
  • Extreme irritability
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers, such as feeling able to control world events
  • Decreased need for sleep without feeling tired
  • Racing thoughts or fast speech
  • Distractibility or difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation
  • Spending sprees
  • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
  • Poor judgment
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
Symptoms of Bipolar Depression:
  • Persistently sad, anxious, irritable or empty mood
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired or rundown
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Thoughts or impulses of self-harm

For more information, visit: HalfofUs.com/condition/bipolar-disorder/
To learn more about The Jed Foundation: jedfoundation.org/newsletter
Follow us on Twitter: @Doctor_Vic @jedfoundation

Have a story about depression that you'd like to share? Email strongertogether@huffingtonpost.com, or give us a call at (860) 348-3376, and you can record your story in your own words. Please be sure to include your name and phone number.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.