Sunday, March 17, 2013

Bipolar Disorder Is More Than Just Mood Swings

During the course of our lives, we all experience ups and downs. Some days we feel happy and care-free, while on other days we just can't shake the blues. While we may find these mood changes bothersome, they do not disrupt our lives.

In some people, more specifically those diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, mood changes are so drastic and severe that those suffering from the disorder often cannot function in the normal world. Once called Manic Depressive Disorder, the disease responsible for these drastic mood swings is now called Bipolar Disorder.

Those suffering from the disorder will fall into one of four subcategories of the disease. These subgroups include Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic Disorder and Bipolar NOS.

In order for a patient to be classified as Bipolar I, they must have experienced at least one or more manic episodes or mixed episodes. During a manic episode patients will experience an extremely elated or euphoric mood. Along with an elated mood, the patients will usually also have increase mental or physical abilities. They also require little sleep during these episodes.

That sounds great, right? So what's the problem? While the manic episodes can bring on an elated mood, those suffering a manic episode may also be suspicious or irritated, have a low attention span or be easily distracted. Worst yet, a deep depression can sometimes follow one of these elated periods.

During these periods of depression, the patient may feel unable to even get out of bed each day. These individuals may also suffer what is called a mixed episode. This is defined as a period of time when symptoms of mania and clinical depression can occur at the same time. Bipolar individuals are often most dangerous, sometimes to others but mostly to themselves, during this state as their moods are in constant flux and easily changed.

Of all four subcategories of Bipolar Disorder, more people are diagnosed with Bipolar II. In order to be diagnosed as suffering from Bipolar II, the patient must have suffered at least one hypomanic phase and one depressive phase. A hypomanic phase is similar to a manic phase, but is generally not as debilitating or destructive as the manic phase can be.

The third subgroup of Bipolar Disorder is the Cyclothymic Disorder. Bipolars in this subgroup often show signs of mood cycling from hypomania to depression but those around them usually accept the mood swings as a personality trait instead of a disorder. Also, the periods of depression do not meet all the criteria of a major depressive episode.

The fourth subcategory of this disorder is Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS). This subgroup generally contains those who are suffering from some type of Bipolar Disorder, but do not fall into any of the above subcategories.

Bipolar Disorder is a disease of variations in mood. It can wreak havoc on the lives of those suffering with it and also those who must try to live and work with these people. There is help for those diagnosed with any form of Bipolar Disorder. Don't give up hope.

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