Bipolar: What is it?

People with bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, are afflicted with bouts of major depression and periods of mania—euphoria, poor judgment, and extreme risk-taking activity—in an often debilitating cycle. Onset usually occurs in mid-to-late adolescence, though there are cases in children.  Bipolar disorder is treatable, but managing the episodes of depression and mania is a lifelong undertaking.

Until the revised DSM-5 came out, children who were chronically irritable and prone to severe tantrums were often diagnosed as bipolar, even though they did not experience the episodes of mania that define the disorder. These children are now diagnosed with disruptive mood dysregulation disorder.