A serious mental illness in which someone experiences extreme changes in mood, sometimes feeling very excited and sometimes very unhappy
‘Bipolar’ disorder is also known as manic depression. It manifests itself by affecting the mood of the sufferer with periods when he or she feels ‘low’ and depressed, followed by spells of feeling elated – on a ‘high’. The latter periods are known as manic or hypomanic episodes. These extreme mood swings can detrimentally affect a patient’s working life and damage relationships.
The illness came into the public consciousness when actor Stephen Fry revealed he is a ‘bipolar’ sufferer having been diagnosed at the age of 37. During research for his TV documentary ‘The Secret Life of The Manic Depressive’ Mr Fry discovered that hundreds of thousands of individuals in the UK have the disorder. His enquiries also revealed the extent of social stigma attached to mental illness. He said: “I want to speak out, to fight the public stigma and to give a clearer picture of mental illness that most people know little about.”
1 FORMAL involving two completely opposing parts or groups
2 MEDICAL suffering from bipolar disorder