Bipolar I disorder - also called manic depression or manic depressive disorder - is a type of mental illness. A person having this illness could have a manic episode at least once in his or her life.  Mania is a mood phase wherein the individual is on a ‘high’ or an elevated state and experiences several symptoms such as those detailed below:

A person suffering from bipolar I disorder may also have depressive episodes wherein they may have suicidal tendencies, feelings of low self worth and so on. Those having bipolar I could also have normal periods in between these two interchanging moods enabling them to live normal lives.

While the onset is largely in young adulthood, it could also occur in early teens or childhood. The illness could be hereditary but not always and environmental and biological factors could also cause it. Virtually anyone could have bipolar I disorder and those with closely related family members having the illness are at a higher risk. Incidence of bipolar I disorder after age 50 could be rare. While in the manic phase, feelings of irritableness and restlessness may predominate. Excessive spending, hyper-sexuality, and substance abuse could further complicate the situation.

  People in manic episode may have sex with random individuals, spend money beyond their means and pursue grand and unrealistic plans. Most commonly the symptoms persist for weeks or months or even years after which they may experience a depressive phase or a normal phase. They may have hallucinations or delusions if it grows severe without medical attention and may behave in a bizarre manner.

  Manic depressive disorder or Bipolar I disorder requires mood stabilizers such as lithium, benzodiazephines or anti-psychotic drugs on prescription from a professional psychiatrist and therapy. Weight loss and lack of sleep or oversleeping may occur in addition to a lack of interest in day to day activities. Family supervision and educating oneself about bipolar I can help to identify cues to the onset of a mood change. Bipolar one disorder can seriously impair daily functioning of the individual.

  It is important to not confuse bipolar I disorder one with substance abuse or anxiety disorders. These individuals require care, support and supervision. Bipolar one is not a character flaw or a ‘curse’. It should be dealt with in a responsible manner with adequate medical attention and recovery is possible. It is essential that there is frequent monitoring to ensure the medication levels are adequate for the individual and treatment is a slow process that could take time to stabilize. There is no overnight cure for bipolar I; however healthy lifestyle changes can do wonders.

Sources: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=30743