Bipolar comes from the prefix “bi-” meaning two, and polar means that it is completely opposite, like Earth’s poles. Knowing this, you can understand what bipolar means.

Anything with two poles or opposites can be considered bipolar, for example the yin and yang (black and white) symbol. Male and female is an example of a bipolar or opposite nature. However, this term is most often used to describe bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, which is when you experience very high and very low ups and downs with your emotions.

Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual changes in mood, energy, activity level, and the ability to perform daily tasks.

There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; They all involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity. These moods range from extremely “intense”, euphoric, and energetic periods (manic episodes) to very sad, “sad”, or hopeless periods (depressive episodes). The less severe manic periods are called hypomanic episodes.

  • Bipolar I disorder: Defined by manic episodes lasting at least 7 days or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person requires immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes also generally occur, usually lasting at least two weeks. There are also depressive episodes with mixed characteristics (presenting depression and manic symptoms).
  • Bipolar II disorder: defined by a series of depressive and hypomanic episodes, but not by the full manic episodes described above.
  • Other bipolar and related disorders, specified or not: defined by symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not correspond to the three categories listed above.

You already know what Bipolar means.