Bipolar Disorder – Understanding the Symptoms
Bipolar disorder, sometimes also called manic depression, affects an estimated 5.7 million adult Americans. It is described as a major affective (mood) disorder in which the sufferer experiences episodes of both mania and severe depression.
It is a serious and very real illness, thought to be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Although all people experience up and down moods, the peaks and valleys of bipolar disorder are far more pronounced and can negatively impact all areas of your life.
Bipolar disorder is identified by extreme alterations in mood, thinking, energy and behavior, resulting in two opposite phases — manic behavior at one end and deep depression at the other. More than just a temporary mood change, these extremes are known to last for days, weeks, or even months.
While manic, someone might feel incredibly energetic, requiring little sleep. Their actions may be erratic, even dangerous at times, and show severe lack of judgment. This reckless behavior might take the form of drinking, drug or even food binges, spending sprees, or sexual promiscuity. While in a manic state, a person may have delusions of grandeur, racing thoughts and increased irritability.
The opposite phase of this illness, depression, is somewhat similar to clinical depression. In a depressive state, a person could have so little energy or motivation that they find it difficult to get out of bed. He or she may experience overwhelming feelings of hopelessness or loneliness. Sometimes, the sufferer may feel that nothing matters and have little interest in the activities they usually enjoy.
While some people experience both manic and depressive periods equally, it is more common for periods of depression to be more pronounced, and manic phases might be a mild enough nature that they are hardly noticed.
In some severe cases, the sufferer may experience psychosis, or a break with reality where the individual’s thinking is affected along with his or her mood. This can happen in either the manic or depressive phases.
Bipolar disorder affects nearly every part of a person’s life. Those suffering from this illness may be more prone to develop diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and migraine headaches. Furthermore, people with bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of committing suicide, and might abuse alcohol or drugs in either phase of the disease (which often worsens the symptoms).
Only a qualified mental health professional can determine if someone is suffering with bipolar disorder. Psychiatric treatment of this disease is critically important for those who are diagnosed. Medication plays an essential role in treatment, but a holistic approach can contribute to recovery. Regular exercise, healthy, routine sleep patterns, a balanced diet and a nurturing environment where stress is minimized can greatly contribute to managing this disorder.
Ordinarily, medications are prescribed by a psychiatrist (although in some states, other mental health professionals may prescribe medication as well). Many different medications are available, but people respond differently to each one. Your mental health practitioner may need to try several until satisfactory results are achieved.
If you or someone you know is exhibiting the symptoms of bipolar disorder, see a qualified mental health professional right away, and do not despair. The right treatment of this illness can help restore you to a happy, fulfilling life while lessening the effects of both mania and depression.
Ron Zedek is a psychiatrist dedicated to helping people resolve issues and learn coping skills. He provides psychotherapy and innovative, progressive medication in the Las Vegas area for many conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and others. Powered by SEO 2.0 Services