Bipolar Disorder

1109275_45865673We all have ups and downs in life. Experiencing times of happiness and sadness is a normal part of growing up. However, when they become extreme and cause problems, it indicates that there might be a more serious problem.


What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is different from those typical happy and sad moments in life. It is a mental illness in which mood shifts from episodes of high energy to episodes of depression.  Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depressive disorder because it alternates between two extreme emotional states of low (depression) and high (mania).  People with bipolar disorder sometimes would feel very happy and be unusually active, while at other times, they would feel very sad and be much less active than usual.  Not only does it causes changes in mood and energy, it also affects activity level and the ability to perform daily tasks.


What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

The cause of bipolar disorder is still unknown.  Rather than a single cause for bipolar disorder, several factors appear to be involved in increasing the risk of bipolar disorder.

  • Have a family history of bipolar disorder
  • Abnormal brain development in brain structure and function
  • Have anxiety disorders


What are Common Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

The first symptoms of bipolar disorder commonly develop during the late teens to young adulthood.  There are a wide variety of symptoms for bipolar disorder and they vary from person to person.  Changes in mood and behavior depend on whether they are in the depressive episode or manic episode.  They can also be in a mixed state where the mood episode includes both depressive and manic symptoms.


Depressive Symptoms

  • Unusually long period of feeling sad and hopeless
  • Losing interest in activities that were once enjoyable
  • Have difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Changes in habits such as in eating or sleeping
  • Losing energy and feeling tired
  • Thoughts of suicide or death


Manic Symptoms

  • Unusually happy and outgoing mood
  • Increased irritation
  • Not feeling tired with little sleep
  • Engaging in pleasurable and high-risk behaviors
  • Have problems concentrating or paying attention
  • Jumping from one thing to the next in ideas, activities, etc.


How is it Treated?

There is no cure for bipolar disorder and it usually lasts a lifetime.  However, it can be controlled with a long-term and effective treatment plan that usually involves both medication and psychotherapy.

  • Medication is used to control the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Each person responds to medication differently, so it may be necessary to try different medications in order to find the ones that work best.  The types of medications used to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, and antidepressants.
  • Psychotherapy or Talk Therapy is also useful in treating bipolar disorder in combination with medication. A psychotherapist gives people with bipolar disorder and their families support, guidance, and education about the illness.


Where Can I Find Help?

  • See a doctor if you have any depressive or manic symptoms
  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide or death


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