What is Bipolar Disorder
People with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings. They experience periods of depression, periods of mania and long periods of normal mood in between. A person with bi-polar disorder will usually have more episodes of depression than mania. The time between these different episodes can vary greatly from person to person, but usually episodes last days or weeks, distinguishing bipolar disorder from moodiness which may cause mood switches that occur on a daily basis or several times a day.
A person is not diagnosed with bipolar disorder until they have experienced an episode of mania. It may therefore, take many years before they are diagnosed correctly and get the most appropriate treatment.
(Information Mental Health First Aid Manual)