Written by Mayin Lo, Pharmacist

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder also known as manic-depressive illness. It is a mental disorder marked by extreme shifts in mood, include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).


Extremely elevated mood (mania) and episodes of depression will be experience by one’s who have bipolar. The extreme mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly. Below are some symptoms, including:

Types of bipolar disorder

Bipolar I Disorder— At least one manic episode. May experience hypomanic or major depressive episodes before and after the manic episode. This type of bipolar disorder affects men and women equally.

Bipolar II Disorder—  At least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but you’ve never had a manic episode.

Cyclothymic Disorder (cyclothymia)— Episodes of hypomania and depression. These symptoms are shorter and less severe than the mania and depression caused by bipolar I or bipolar II disorder. Most people with this condition only experience a month or two at a time where their moods are stable.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders— Others bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the three categories listed above.


Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness.  An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy.


Different types of medications can help control symptoms of bipolar disorder.

  • Mood stabilizers
  • Atypical antipsychotics
  • Antidepressants


It can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Family-focused therapy
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
  • Psychoeducation

When to get help?

Despite the mood extremes, people with bipolar disorder often don’t recognize how much their emotional instability disrupts their lives and the lives of their loved ones and don’t get the treatment they need.

If you have any symptoms of depression or mania, see your doctor or mental health professional. Bipolar disorder doesn’t get better on its own. Getting treatment from a mental health professional with experience in bipolar disorder can help you get your symptoms under control.

Those who need someone to talk about their problem and dilemmas may contact Befrienders at 03-79568144/8145. For more details on Befrienders helpline in other states, visit www.befrienders.org.my.