Sunday, August 18, 2013

How to Detect Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, which is also known as manic-depression or manic-depressive illness, is a curable psychological condition characterized by alternating patterns of mania and depression. It often begins in early adulthood and may last throughout life. The illness has no cure but it can be managed through appropriate treatment regimen. The illness has two forms. Bipolar I Disorder, which is the most severe form, is described as having one or more manic episodes that may cause substantial impairment in functioning. Bipolar II Disorder is described as having one or more depressive episodes with at least one mild to moderate manic episode that does not cause impairment in functioning.

Bipolar disorder has two phases. The manic phase, or a period of emotional highs, is characterized by the following signs and symptoms: increased energy and activity, euphoric mood, extreme irritability, an inflated sense of self-esteem, a reduced need for sleep, a high degree of talkativeness, racing thoughts, taking on multiple projects at once, and distractibility. Loss of normal judgment, unusual or risky behavior that is different from the normal and disorganized thoughts are symptoms of more severe manic episodes. Symptoms of the depressive phase include feelings of depression, loss of interest, significant weight loss, changes in appetite, changes in sleeping habits, agitation, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, guilt, indecisiveness and suicidal thoughts or plans.

The illness is hard to differentiate from other conditions and there isn't yet a distinct way on how to detect bipolar disorder. Some people may suffer from the disorder for years before getting a correct diagnosis. The dual nature of bipolar disorder makes it hard for the condition to be detected immediately. In the manic or hypomanic phase, affected individuals seldom seek treatment due to feelings of euphoria and extreme optimism. But when they fall into the depressive phase, they often seek professional help. And when they do, they unfortunately take into account only the depressive symptoms. For this reason, they are usually incorrectly diagnosed with depression instead of bipolar disorder. The symptoms in bipolar disorder are also similar to other psychiatric disorders, thus the diagnosis is more complicated.

No laboratory test can help individuals in knowing how to detect bipolar disorder. But doctors can help determine if an individual has bipolar disorder symptoms through a questionnaire. The Mood Disorder Questionnaire, or MDQ, consists of a complete psychiatric history and a complete medical history and physical exam. A patient may be diagnosed with bipolar disorder if no physical cause is found, if there is no other psychiatric illness that can account for the symptoms, and if the symptoms impair the individual's functioning. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron-emission tomographic (PET) scans may also be useful in helping to detect abnormalities in the brain that might identify bipolar disorder.

By educating themselves about the illness and its symptoms, people involved will know not only how to detect bipolar disorder, but they will also understand the effects it has on those suffering from it and how to help them manage their condition. It may also be beneficial for patients to become more aware of how to detect bipolar disorder through early signs and making notes of their episodes.

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