If you have any concerns about your risk for suicide, or someone you care about, please give us a call at (619) 594-5220 or the San Diego Access and Crisis Line at (888) 724-7240. We also have a larger section dedicated specifically to suicide. To learn more, please click here.


Bipolar Disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depression, is often misunderstood. For example, some people may incorrectly refer to themselves as ‘bipolar’ when they experience a quick mood change. 

Someone who has actually been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder experiences this differently. For those individuals, they experience a shift from experiencing mania, which we will describe in a moment, and depression. Both generally last for a period of time that can be from days to weeks. It is possible, but much less common, that they rapidly change back and forth.

Mania is a period of time where a person has elevated, expanded, or irritable mood. In some cases, the mania may make it temporarily impossible to function effectively as a student.

The depressive aspect of bipolar can be very difficult for individuals. Within a few days of feeling like they were on top of the world, they may fall into a deep depression.

It is very important that individuals seek mental health support, whether it is therapy and/or medication when mania and/or depressed mood interferes with an individual’s ability to function.


  • Feeling elated or irritable/touchy
  • Feeling jumpy/wired
  • Racing thoughts
  • Decreased sleep
  • Flight of ideas
  • Excessive interest in food, drinking, sex, or other activities that give pleasure
  • Believing you can do more than usual without tiring
  • Having an inflated sense of importance or your talents

Here are some symptoms of depression. For more information, please visit our depression page.

  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Feeling restless
  • Feeling “slowed down”
  • Fatigue/loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or frequent/excessive guilt
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death, including suicidal thoughts


Medication is often a very important part of treatment for Bipolar Disorder. It can help lessen the impact and potential consequences from manic episodes, as well as improve depressed mood. Staying compliant and communicating with your healthcare provide is vital for maximizing your benefit from medication.
Most depressive or manic episodes do not occur suddenly. Try to identify clues that you are beginning to experience a manic episode by noticing changes in your mood and behavior. If you can catch it early enough, you may be able to use strategies to minimize the potential harm.
Figure out which activities you may need to cut back from if you are beginning to feel manic. Are there better/safer environments for you to be in if needed? Also, is there a person or a few people you can contact for support?
This is helpful for when you experience periods of time when you are experiencing depression as part of Bipolar Disorder.


If you are unsure how to get support, you are much less likely to do so. Learn about on and off campus options for treatment. Identify what your steps would be to get connected (e.g. calling Counseling & Psychological Services, calling your insurance company, talking to family, etc.)
Knowing when a manic episode is about to occur can significantly help you prepare and not be caught off guard.
Write down the following: Who to call, what you can cut back on, coping skills, and what you can change in your environment.


If you are curious about learning more about bipolar disorder, you may find it helpful to take one or more of the following screenings or click here for our general online assessment screenings: