- Extract: Bipolar disorder is one of the most distinct syndromes in psychiatry and has been described in numerous cultures over the course of history, in a manner that suggests considerable similarity of the syndrome in time and place. The unique phase of the illness is mania. However, depression can be the most prominent phase and the ratio of depressions to manias over the life course of the illness is highly variable. Depression in a bipolar disorder is a syndrome that can be understood by any human being, as all of us have experienced sadness and there are at least some commonalities between normal sadness and the state of depression. Mania is often difficult to explain to someone who has not seen a manic patient. In many ways, mania is the opposite of depression and is characterized by the following: an elevated mood or euphoria, an overactivity with a lack of the need for sleep, and an increased optimism that usually becomes so severe that the patient's judgment is impaired and they may make decisions based on their optimism such as the purchase of 500 television sets if they believe that the merchandise will go up in price.