What is Bipolar Disorder?

November 7, 2022

what is bipolar disorder?

depression and mania

by Jamal Ross

At times we cordially use the word “bipolar” to describe swings in someone’s behavior, but there is a deeper meaning. If we were to take a snapshot of someone’s life dealing with bipolar disorder, we may see someone who is terribly depressed. At other times we can see someone who is filled with energy, ideas, and irresponsibility. This period of heightened activity and risk taking is called mania. While we have discussed major depression in previous episodes, let us find out more about mania. More importantly, let us find out more about what the bible says about how we should feel and be stable in our decisions and actions.

According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, those with bipolar disorder deal with periods of major depression and mania. (1) In essence, on one pole there is major depression with feelings of a depressed mood, lack in the interest of activities of daily life, guilt, hopelessness, poor sleep and concentration. On the other pole, there is mania.

With mania, there is inflated self-esteem, decreased need for sleep and a flight of racing ideas. Those with mania are easily distracted and have decreased need for sleep. Importantly, there is an extreme involvement in activities that have a high potential for severe and painful consequences. Examples includes unaffordable spending sprees, sexual infidelity and driving recklessly. While there is an increase in goal directed activities and taking on new projects, some may take on new and foolish business ventures and projects are often not completed. (2)

While looking at bipolar disorder, it is important to look at the behavior of a friend or loved one over time. While those close to us may appear to have major depression, closer and timely inspection may reveal bipolar disorder when mania is found. It is important to surround our loved ones with support and redirection in periods of depression and mania. The risk-taking behavior that can be self-destructive and harmful. In these moments it is even more important to keep our minds on Jesus. Isiah 26:3 (NLT) tells us “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” Even in moments of mania, keeping yourself stable, avoiding reckless spending and keeping yourself pure in spirit and body is essential. Remember, we have a hope that is an “anchor for our souls” (See Hebrews 6:19). Consistently pursue God and His word in these moments, you will not be lead astray.

1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), American Psychiatric Association, 2013.
2. Suppes T. Bipolar disorder Unipolar in adults: Clinical features. In: UpToDate, Keck P. and Solomon D. (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA (Assessed November 5, 2022)

Jamal Ross

Dr. Jamal Ross is an internist and pediatrician who possesses a passion for prayer and preventative medicine. He has worked in the fields of primary care and hospital medicine.

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