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The Difference Between Mood Swings and Bipolar Disorder

Mood swings

Most people have experienced mood swings at some time. Our moods naturally shift as we go about our day-to-day lives. Moods can change as other people and things affect us. This is normal. The difference between mood swings and bipolar disorder is the timing and severity.

Natural mood swings are not usually extreme. They typically don't last very long. They also don't happen a lot. People who have bipolar disorder go through intense mood swings. Their feelings can be hard to control. Their moods change often and they can't help it.

Bipolar disorder

Having bipolar disorder can mean feeling very happy one moment and extremely depressed the next. These are the kinds of mood swings that can disrupt a person's life if he or she does not get help. Regular mood swings may cause a little shift in behavior and feelings, but they don't stop people from doing things like going to work or going to school. They don't make people think about death or suicide.

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness. When a person with bipolar disorder is experiencing a manic phase (a high), he or she might go overboard with spending or have much more energy than usual.

During a depressive phase (a low), a person can feel like life isn't worth living and have trouble just doing regular daily activities. These extreme feelings can make it hard to function at work, home, or school. It can put a strain on relationships.

Finding help

It is important to tell a health care provider if someone is having more mood swings than usual, especially when it seems to be out of control. There are different kinds of treatments for bipolar disorder. Talk therapy and medicines can help. Bipolar disorder and mood swings can be managed so that a person can have a better quality of life.

If you are not already in treatment for bipolar disorder and feel you could benefit from outpatient therapy, you can call PerformCare Member Services for answers to your care questions or for help finding a provider.