Saturday, July 13, 2013

Living With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is characterized by extreme swings in mood, energy level, and cognitive ability. These dramatic swings are much more serious than the usual ups and downs everyone experiences. A person who is bipolar can go from manically happy and energized to so depressed they can't even move. These swings can be quick or very long-lasting.

The Damage Done by Bipolar Disorder

During manic periods, you may have lots of ideas and energy. Some people who suffer from this don't eat or sleep during their manic episodes. They may be overly aggressive, irritable and/or impulsive. This impulsiveness can lead to risky behavior and bad decision making.

When in a depressive episode, a person with bipolar disorder feels worthless and lethargic. It's not uncommon for people to contemplate suicide. It's easier to recognize that a person has bipolar disorder by these depressive episodes, which may last for days or even weeks.

In severe cases, the swings may be so bad that the person can't function at all. They may lose their job, drop out of school, have family problems, or have trouble with social relationships. Many people with bipolar disorder attempt suicide.

These cycles can be extremely rapid or they can last as long as a couple of weeks. Some people with severe bipolar disorder are never in a state of balance between the two extremes.

What Causes This Issue?

Most people develop bipolar disorder symptoms in their teens or early adult years. More than half do so before the age of 25. There are a number of risk factors that make developing the disorder more likely. It contains a genetic component. If you have a close relative who suffers from the condition, it's more likely that you will too.

This is caused by changes in brain chemistry. Certain physical problems that affect regular functioning of the brain can cause it. Trauma or damage to the brain can as well. Sometimes, it's triggered by extreme stress, traumatic life events, or major life changes.

Is Bipolar Disorder Treatable?

Yes, it is completely treatable. Many people who suffer from it seek treatment and are able to live happy, productive lives. There is no cure but like any other mental illness, it can be successfully managed through the many treatment options available.

Treatments include:

  • Medications to treat symptoms and keep an emotional balance

  • Techniques for recognizing triggers that cause manic and depressive episodes

  • Individual and group therapy

  • Lifestyle changes that can help such as dietary changes, exercising and learning to cope more effectively with stress.

Treatment is overwhelmingly effective but there's one barrier that keeps people from getting the help they need. This barrier is their failure to recognize the warning signs. When bipolar episodes goes undiagnosed, this is when the real damage occurs. If you think you may suffer from bipolar disorder, talk to a doctor immediately.

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