Bipolar disorder, which used to be known as manic-depressive disorder, affects about one percent of Canada's population. The disorder is marked by periods of emotional highs, called mania, alternating with periods of emotional lows, called depression. The level of emotion in these moods is disproportionate or unrelated to the events and situations a person is facing in his or her life at the time.
The mood swings of bipolar disorder can be mild or they can be severe. They may change over time and with a dependence on the other circumstances a person is facing. For example, in times of high stress, the episodes may be more pronounced.
Bipolar disorder has a tendency to run in families. The root causes are unknown, but an imbalance in brain chemistry is suspected. This is because of the way that medications which work in reducing symptoms function. Recurrence of the cycle of manic and depressive symptoms throughout a person's lifetime is usual, especially when left untreated.
During the manic period, a person might be irritable and argumentative as well as euphoric. Other symptoms include rapid fire speech patterns and complaints of racing thoughts, a sensation of not needing to sleep, and an exaggerated sense of self-esteem. Impulsive and reckless behaviour are common, even criminal and dangerous behaviours. This is because of a feeling of invincibility. In the most extreme cases, there may be hallucinations and delusions as well.
During the depressive period, there are feelings of hopelessness, an increase in sleeping and/or eating, a decreased interest in things that used to give pleasure, and thoughts and expressions of self-denigration. Thoughts of suicide may occur. Attempts are rarer, but are higher among those with bipolar disorder than in the general population.
Either phase may be triggered by stress, alcohol or drug abuse, and changes in daily routine that disrupt established sleep patterns. Work and school performance can be adversely impacted in those with bipolar disorder. Relationships may become strained. Prolonged mental illness impacts physical health, too. Body aches may occur, due to a lack of restful sleep and elevated levels of cortisol. Appetite fluctuations lead to weight gain, weight loss, and poor nutritional status.
Even with medication, many people with bipolar disorder are unable to keep a regular job. That can lead to financial difficulties. The Disability Tax Credit may be available to those with bipolar disorder. The requirements are that the applicant have a significant impairment in two or more abilities that are needed in daily life and a marked impairment in one such ability, and the condition must have been present for a continuous period of one year. A supporting family member can take the credit, if the disabled person does not earn any taxable income.
When applying, it is important to complete the paperwork accurately. Even people who would have qualified have been denied because of errors or omissions in the documentation. An experienced professional can take care of the filing for you. Their familiarity with the requirements of the Canada Revenue Agency ensures that everything is done correctly.