Bipolar disorder is a treatable mental health condition marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy, and behavior. It is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. Bipolar disorder was previously known as manic depression because a person’s mood can alternate between the “poles” of mania (highs) and depression (lows). These changes in mood, or “mood swings,” can last for hours, days, weeks or months.

When people experience symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time, they’re said to be experiencing a mixed state (or mixed mania). They have all of the negative feelings that come with depression, but they also feel agitated, restless and activated, or “wired.” Those individuals who have had a mixed state often describe it as the very worst part of bipolar disorder.