Bipolar Disorder, or Manic Depression, is a brain disorder that causes sporadic and unusual shifts in mood and activity levels, with no apparent outside cause. Sometimes the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are so severe that they can damage relationships and job or school performance. Some cases have even resulted in suicide. This condition often arises in a person’s late teens to adulthood and if left untreated can only worsen throughout life. However, when diagnosed and treated carefully, Bipolar Disorder can be managed just as any other long-term illness. Typically, people with this disorder go back and forth between moods in what are sometimes called “mood episodes.” They can either be extremely happy or “manic,” or they are extremely sad in a “depressive episode.” These incidences of extreme emotions or behavior can sometimes result in explosive and irritable behavior. Other times, Bipolar Disorder can also cause changes in sleep schedules, activity and energy. These factors can cause disruptions in school or at work and they are sometimes persistent problems.
Statistics of Bipolar Disorder:
- Bipolar Disorder manifests itself before the age of 25 in at least 50% of all cases.
- Between episodes, people with Bipolar Disorder do not show symptoms.
- The illness is characterized by sporadic shifts in mood, behavior and energy levels that occur with little to no explanation.
- A distinguishing feature of Dipolar Disorder is the intensity of the highs and lows.
- Substance abuse, anxiety disorders and ADHD often co-occur with Bipolar Disorder.
- People with bipolar disorder usually experience one or two cycles a year, each episode generally arising in the spring or fall.
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Typical treatment for Bipolar Disorder includes medications and psychotherapy. Someone who may be suffering from Bipolar Disorder should talk to his or her doctor in order to properly conclude that there are no other factors that may simply be causing the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Once Bipolar Disorder is established as the problem, a psychiatrist can prescribe medications if that is the course of treatment recommended. However, several may have to be tried before a patient can find one that is effective with virtually no side effects. Psychotherapy is also an effective treatment for people who have Bipolar Disorder. This kind of therapy aims to educate, guide and support those with the condition, as well as their families. Treatments focus on identifying negative thought patterns and behaviors, as well as helping family and friends support those with the disorder by educating everyone about how to block or moderate a full-blown episode.
If you or someone you care about is suffering from Bipolar Disorder, contacting a medical or mental health professional may help. There are plenty of mainstream and alternative treatment options available. Talk about these options with your doctor; they should have your best interest in mind. Don’t let this debilitating illness control you or your loved one’s life. Peace of mind is within reach with the help and support of people who care about you.
- National Institute of Mental Health – This site includes information on the definition of bipolar disorder, symptoms and treatment.
- MedlinePlus – This is a very succinct page on bipolar disorder and its overarching effects.
- Helpguide.org – This is a non-profit that provides expert, ad-free advice on resolving health issues.