More and more often these days, people are hearing the term 'bipolar' when addressing behavior problems or issues in friends, acquaintances and family members. The term evokes images of evil behavior in many, while others merely shrug, unaware of what the condition is or how it presents itself in someone's daily life. Basically, being diagnosed as bipolar is identical to what is now more commonly known as manic depression.
More than two million people within the United States have been diagnosed with a bipolar condition, or disease, one that can affect all social classes and age groups. Older people as well as children can be diagnosed with the mental illness that has the power to damage the professional and private lives of those suffering from mood swings that can range from severely depressed to almost hyperactive euphoria and good will.
While many people suffering from this mental disorder may avoid the deep depressions and manic 'highs' of the disease due to proper treatment and medication, thousands of others who have been unable to obtain such treatment suffer from dangerously dehabilitating episodes of depression that threaten relationships, jobs and sometimes, lead to suicide.
Others experiencing the manic side of bipolar symptoms may be happy, cheerful and, to all purposes, 'normal', while others lose reasoning powers that cause them to make decisions they would not normally make. Many bipolar sufferers, when experiencing the manic phase of the condition, make bad financial investments and decisions that affect them for the rest of their lives.
For some, severe depressions and manic episodes are avoided and lifestyles maintain rather normal behavior patterns and remain undiagnosed. Others, after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, take medications to maintain as normal a lifestyle as possible.
After much research throughout the past few decades, the disorder is now considered to be one that will find a sufferer constantly experiencing one of several ranges of behaviors, from mild to severe. Many patients respond very well to psychotherapy and medications, sometimes a combination of the two.
For those who come from families with a history of the disease, the likelihood that future generations will be diagnosed with the disease increase by more than half. Researchers have been seeking a genetic link to the prevalence of the disease in families, and some progress has been made in studies of gene and myelin development within the central nervous system. Other studies have shown that over one half of patients diagnosed with a bipolar disorder have a history of past substance abuse, especially the use of cocaine.
Left untreated, a diagnosis of a bipolar condition can lead to disrupted lives, feelings of worthlessness, and for many, suicide. Treatment is available and in most cases, helps those diagnosed with the disorder. However, it's important for family and friends to know and recognize the signs and symptoms of behaviors that may indicate a bipolar condition, since more often than not, the person suffering from the condition is hesitant, and understandably so, to discuss their mental state with others.
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