What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, causes serious shifts in mood, energy, thinking and behavior. These behavior shifts often range from a “manic high” to a low slump of depression and can last for several days up to several months. Though we can all relate to mood swings, with bipolar disorder, the extreme behavioral shifts interfere with life’s responsibilities and day to day tasks.
The reasons for bipolar disorder are often hard to pinpoint, but oftentimes it appears to be hereditary coupled with several other factors. The first episode usually occurs in teenage years or early adulthood. More often than not, people are depressed more than they are manic and the manic episodes can even be so mild that they go unrecognized.
Manic Depressive Episodes
During a manic episode, a person may impulsively run up their credit card, quit a job, or feel energized and stimulated after only a few hours of sleep. On the opposite end, during a depressive episode, that person may be too tired to perform daily activities, and not want to get out of bed, and feel a self-loathing or hopelessness.
It is a common misconception that bipolar disorder only affects mood. In fact, bipolar disorder affects memory, concentration, judgement, energy levels, and sleep patterns.
Medication Is Not Your Only Option
Though medication is the foundation for treating bipolar disorders, there are several other options for combatting it. Self help strategies and therapy, exercise, eating right and surrounding yourself with supportive people play an important role in treating the disorder too. Ultimately, bipolar disorder should be treated over the long term, while some gaps in episodes may be spaced very far apart.
Signs & Symptoms of Mania
- Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic
- Extreme Irritability
- Unrealistic grandiose ideas about one’s abilities
- Talking so rapidly that others cannot keep up
- Sleeping very little, but maintaining a lot of energy
- Racing thoughts and jumping between ideas
- Impulsiveness and impaired judgement
- Acting recklessly and not thinking about the consequences
Signs & Symptoms of Bipolar Depression
- Feeling hopeless, empty and sad
- Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Physical and mental sluggishness
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