From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
“In consequence of their irritability and their changing moods their conduct of life is subject to the most multifarious incidents, they make sudden resolves, and carry them out on the spot, run off abruptly, go traveling, enter a cloister.”--Manic Depressive Insanity and Paranoia (1921) by Emil Kraepelin
"Bipolar disorder is found in disproportionate numbers in people with creative talent such as artists, musicians, authors, poets, and scientists, and it has been speculated that the mechanisms which cause the disorder may also spur creativity. Many historical figures gifted with creative talents commonly cited as bipolar were "diagnosed" after their deaths based on letters, correspondence or other material."--Sholem Stein
Bipolar disorder, often referred to as manic-depression in the general literature, is a psychiatric condition defined by periods of extreme mood. These moods can occur on a spectrum ranging from debilitating depression to unbridled mania. Individuals suffering a bipolar disorder generally experience fluid states of mania, hypomania or what is referred to as a mixed states in concert with clinical depression. These clinical states typically alternate with a normal range of mood, which is termed euthymia. Bipolar disorder can range in severity from a mild annoyance to a serious lifelong disability.
There are many variations of this disorder. A person with bipolar disorder generally tends to experience more extreme states of mood than other people, even within the context of what might be considered "normal". Moods can change quickly (many times a day) or last for months. In psychiatric terms, this is called fast cycling or slow cycling, respectively. Bipolar individuals tend to have very 'black and white' thinking, where everything in life is either a positive aspect or a negative. Mood patterns of this nature are associated with distress and disruption, and a relatively high risk of suicide.
Bipolar disorder is usually treated with medications and/or therapy or counseling.