Bipolar Disorder is a condition that is characterized by feeling extreme emotions. This mood disorder commonly has two phases, mania and depression. Each of these phases is at the extreme ends of the emotional spectrum. Currently, 5 million Americans suffer from this type of disorder. When left untreated, it can greatly affect the life of a person suffering from it. With information and treatment, this is a disorder that can be understood and treated, leading to a return to a normal life.
One of the primary defining characteristics is the state of mania. Mania is a period of time during which a person experiences a distinctly elevated mood, in many cases experienced as euphoria. There are many different forms that this can take. In the state of mania a person often has racing thoughts, lack of need for sleep and greatly increased energy. While some of the symptoms may seem desirable, especially to the productive person, they are characterized by the inability to control them, and can have negative side effects. Irrational behavior and impaired judgment during the manic phase can lead a person to make bad choices with regard to relationships, health, personal safety, sexual activity and the manic state may also lead to substance abuse. Irritability and lack of patience are often cited by those experiencing the heightened state of mania. Not all of the symptoms will be experienced by every individual, but a manic episode is recognized by medical health professionals if it lasts more than one week.
On the other end of the spectrum from the manic episode is the depressive episode. The depressive episodes share many traits in common with clinical depression, and the symptoms may include: continuing feelings of extreme anxiety, hopelessness or isolation; the loss of appetite; changes to sleeping patterns; loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities; social anxiety; chronic, sometimes unexplained, pain. In extreme cases a person may experience suicidal ideation and have prolonged extremely morbid thoughts during a depressive phase.
The two common phases, manic episodes and depressive episodes, have profound impacts on the lives of those suffering with it every single day. The rapid changes in mood cause fear and anxiety. Both phases have unique ways of interfering with a person's ordinary life and relationships. Because of the difficulty of diagnosing the disorder, it is often family members or close friends who recognize the symptoms in their loved ones. If correctly diagnosed, there are many treatment options.
This is a serious condition from which many people suffer. Their lives are interrupted by the extreme swings in mood and the social and physical side effects of these phases. With a thorough understanding, anyone suffering from it can seek help, and the treatment options have met with success in many cases. Bipolar Disorder can be regulated and managed, allowing a person to resume life on more normal terms.