Bipolar disorder causes strong shifts in energy, mood, and activity levels. A person with bipolar disorder will switch between extreme excitement, or mania, and depression. These shifts can affect your ability to perform daily activities. In some cases, a person with bipolar disorder may also experience hallucinations and delusions (see below).
Schizophrenia causes symptoms that are more severe than the symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with schizophrenia experience hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations involve seeing or hearing things that aren’t there. Delusions are beliefs in things that aren’t true. People with schizophrenia may also experience disorganized thinking in which they are unable to care for themselves.
Frequency and ages affected
Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.2 percent of people in the United States. Typically, it first appears between the late teen years and early adulthood. Children can also show signs of bipolar disorder.
Schizophrenia isn’t as common as bipolar disorder. It affects 1.1 percent of the U.S. population. People usually learn they have it between the ages of 16 and 30. Schizophrenia isn’t usually seen in children.
Risk factors for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia
No one knows what causes bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. However, genetics are probably a risk factor, as both conditions likely run in families. This doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely inherit the disorder if your parent or sibling has it. Your risk increases, however, if multiple family members have the disorder. But knowing there’s a risk increases the chance of early detection and treatment.
Environmental factors may also contribute to your risk, but this connection isn’t entirely understood yet.