The diagnosis of a mental health issue like bipolar disorder may be met with many reactions. The patient may be saddened by the news; they may also feel scared, uncertain of what the future holds as a Bipolar Disorder sufferer. Some may even feel a sense of relief because they finally have a diagnosis. Whatever the reaction, the next step involves developing an understanding of the illness so that it can be treated.
Definition of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder is a serious mental illness. It used to be known as Manic Depressive Disorder or Manic Depression. Bipolar Disorder involves swings in mood from mania to depression. Mania is characterized by energetic, talkative, reckless and restless states. These can spiral into feelings of irritation,confusion,anger, and feelings of being trapped. Periods of mania can result in impulsive and risky behavior.
Depression is defined by periods of sadness, crying, feelings of worthlessness, loss of energy, loss of enjoyment and sleep problems. These mood swings can last months, even years or be very frequent and dramatic. Sometimes patients manages to function well with the disorder because the manic swings can be productive. The danger comes when symptoms worsen because of risk taking behavior associated with mania and the thoughts of self-harm or suicide that often come with depression.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Unpredictable and dramatic mood swings are the primary symptom of bipolar disorder. The person with the disorder may display symptoms of mania which in addition to those already stated may include: excessive happiness,excitement,less need for sleep, high sex drive and making grand and unattainable plans.
The person may also show these additional signs of depression: anxiety, changes in appetite, weight gain or loss, and difficulty making decisions.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
In Bipolar type one the affected individual has had at least one manic episode in their life. In Bipolar type two moods cycle between high and low but the highs never reach full mania. In the rapid cycling type of bipolar disorder experiences four or more episodes of depression or mania in a year.
Mixed Bipolar patients experience highs and lows simultaneously or in rapid sequence. Cycothymia is a milder mood disorder with symptoms that are less severe than full blown Bipolar Disorder.
Treatment of Bipolar
Often, Bipolar Disorder is treated with a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Anti-psychotic medications are often used to treat both depressive and manic symptoms. Mood stabilizers are often used as well. Lithium is often used to treat both types of mood swings. Anti-convulsion medications can also be used to stabilize depression. The disorder is manageable with the correct treatment and support.