Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that affects millions of people worldwide, often first striking between the ages of 15 and 25.
Experts think this condition is caused by a chemical imbalances in the brain. It causes extreme mood swings from the highest of manic highs to the lowest of depressive lows.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that affects both how a person feels and thinks. Though most people with this disorder experience more lows than highs, to be officially diagnosed one has to have experienced at least one period of mania, which is a portion of time that is euphoric.
Medication, talk therapy and education about the disease are tools one can use to help manage the symptoms of this illness. Each person reacts differently to the mood disorder and so the treatments will also be very varied.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder are varied and can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months at a time.
Signs of mania include:
• Being easily distracted
• Restlessness and no need for sleep
• Having poor judgment and poor control of one’s temper
• Poor sense of self-control include overeating, over-drinking, drug use, promiscuity, and spending sprees
• Highly elevated mood with increased energy, activity, high self-esteem and very talkative
• Highly agitated or irritated
Signs of a depressive episode:
• Daily feelings of sadness or thoughts of suicide
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
• Over- or under-eating resulting in weight loss or weight gain
• Lack of energy
• Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt
• Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
• Low or lowered self-esteem
• Not getting enough sleep or sleeping too much
• Pulling away from friends or activities that one once enjoyed
The goals of treatment for bipolar disorder are to reduce the symptoms of both depressive and manic episodes, reduce the severity of the disease, reduce the likelihood of a relapse of the condition’s symptoms, and provide support to the patient and his/her family.
For most people diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there is not a clear reason or cause for the manic or depressive episodes. However, some things may trigger a manic episode in people with this condition such as:
• Life changes such as childbirth
• Medications such as antidepressants or steroids
• Periods of sleeplessness
• Recreational drug use
People living with bipolar disorder can lead long, healthy, productive lives. With medication, a good support system, and the care of a medical professional, bipolar symptoms can be managed and made less severe.
NIH.gov. Web. 9 January 2013. “Bipolar Disorder”.
Healthline.com. Web. 9 January 2013. “What is bipolar disorder?”
Reviewed January 10, 2013
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith