One moment you feel as if you can conquer the world (in fact you're busy making the plans to do exactly that!), the next minute you're sobbing uncontrollably because you're miserably depressed.

If you think it's just a case of normal emotions, think again. It could be that you have bipolar disorder. Formerly know as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by periodic episodes displaying divergent mood swings. At one of the pendulum of bipolar disorder is the manic episode - that euphoric feeling that you're capable of doing absolutely anything.

But those with bipolar disorder , just don't 'feel' as if they can do anything, they will, more often than not, act on this feeling. Those with bipolar disorder experiencing a manic episode will act recklessly, very often embarking on new adventures that are out of his reach or are quickly abandoned as he experiences the down side of bipolar disorder . Aggressive behavior, as well, is a symptom of the manic episode of bipolar disorder.

Then comes the depressive episode of bipolar disorder. You're depressed - perhaps even suicidal in extreme instances. An individual with bipolar disorder experiencing a depressive episode very often has difficulties functioning in daily life.

A person in the depressive episode of bipolar disorder experiences disturbances in his sleep patterns and in his appetite. He may also display apathy toward his daily routine. Chronic pain with no apparent cause could also be a signal that a person is in a depressive episode of bipolar disorder.

If you think that you'll be able to distinguish bipolar disorder from general depression or other general mental health problems, you'd be surprised to learn it's not always that easy. There are six different categories of bipolar disorder classified roughly according to their severity.

Bipolar I disorder is the most severe of these. It involves the classic mood swings of bipolar disorder with the widest range of divergence between the two. Bipolar II disorder is the second in the category and it only differs from bipolar I disorder in the severity of the episodes.

A third form of bipolar disorder is called cyclothymic disorder. This is characterized by the alternating of exaggerated manic episodes called hypomania and a mild depression. While not as severe as the other two forms of bipolar disorder, it can develop into a more severe form of bipolar disorder in some people.

Rapid Cycling is a fourth category of bipolar disorder. This is exactly as it sounds. Those affected with this form of bipolar disorder can experience several swings between the manic and depressive episodes even in a short a period as a day. To be diagnosed with this form of bipolar disorder, you must at least four mood swings in a 12 month period.