If you’re reading this and you are a human being who lived through 2020, you already know that the past year has been stressful. For people with bipolar disorder, managing the stress of living through a global pandemic is particularly important to avoid dramatic mood changes. And mothers with bipolar disorder had the added challenges of juggling parenthood and virtual schooling as well as managing their condition, which may have felt overwhelming and even isolating if they didn’t know others in similar situations.
People with bipolar disorder experience extreme shifts in mood, energy, and concentration levels, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. You may be prone to manic episodes, characterized by an uncomfortable excess of energy that can manifest in racing thoughts, inability to sleep, and irritation. You may also experience depressive episodes and feel sad, hopeless, or uninterested in things you usually enjoy. (It’s also possible to have mixed episodes with symptoms of both mania and depression or to experience hypomanic episodes, a milder form of mania. In either episode, some people experience psychosis marked by either hallucinations or delusions.) There are various types of bipolar disorder, which are classified by the severity of your symptoms. People with bipolar I disorder experience manic episodes for at least seven days (they may also experience depressive episodes that last roughly two weeks), according to the NIMH. Individuals with bipolar II disorder may experience manic and depressive episodes but not for the same period of time.