Not many people realize that bipolar disease is a common form of depression which can be traced back to the 1st century of ancient Greece. For thousands of years bipolar disorder was widely misunderstood with many people (during the roman and ancient Greek periods) being executed as it was believed the sufferer was possessed by demons.
Thankfully with advancements in medicine and an understanding of how the human mind works it is understood that bipolar disorder is actually a brain disorder that causes severe shifts in mood. These moods consist of two states, the first being a state of mania where the sufferer feels extreme happiness and joy and the second state being a feeling of melancholy.
So what's the problem with these two states? Everybody feels down (a state of melancholy) at some point and the same can be said with the feeling of happiness and joy (a state of mania). With bipolar disorder however these two states are in the extremes often leading to irrational thought and behavior. The feeling of melancholy is often not just a feeling of being sad but seriously depressed with self-harm and thoughts of suicide being common. With mania (the feeling of extreme happiness and excitement) can also lead to irrational thoughts and behavior, such as laughing out loud for no reason, serous shopping binges or quitting a job out of the blue.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be subtle (unlike the extremes of mood swings), but if you know what to look for you may be able to help a sufferer before the bipolar becomes a serious problem or serious problems occur as a result of the disorder.
Symptoms for a depressive episode (melancholy):
The good news is that there are treatments available for sufferers of bipolar disorder, the bad news is that currently bipolar is not 100% curable. Many of the treatments that are available work hand in hand with each other and overall do work well when taken on a consistent basis. Medication such as mood stabilizers (a common one is a Lithium based one discovered by the Romans) other medication is often used to treat melancholy and a different one is used to treat mania. Other forms of treatment include therapy such as art therapy or talking therapy, these can be expensive but can also work wonders with medication.