We all have our good days and our bad days, our "up" days and our "down" days but for anyone suffering from bipolar disorder, these offs and ons are more serious. The symptoms of bipolar can hurt your job and school work performance, spoil your relationships and upset your daily life. Although this disorder is treatable, most people do not recognize the warning signs and therefore do not get the bipolar disorder treatment they really need. As bi polar disorder tends to degenerate without treatment, it's important to know what the symptoms are like. Recognizing the disorder is the first step towards getting it under control.
Bi polar disorder, sometimes known as manic depression, causes serious changes in moods, vitality, and other behaviour going from the heights of mania on one level, to the depths of depression on the other. More than just a momentary good or bad mood, the bi polar disorder cycle last for days, weeks, or even for months and unlike normal mood swings, the mood changes of bi polar disorder are so intense that they affect your ability to function.
During one of their manic episodes, a person might quite easily quit a job, go on a spending spree, charging huge amounts on credit cards, or feel completely refreshed after only sleeping two hours. During a depressive period, the same person might feel too tired to get out of bed and be full of self-loathing and feel utterly hopeless over being out of a job and deeply in debt.
The causes of bi polar disorder are not fully understood, but it may sometimes run in families. The first occurrence of bi polar disorder is usually in the teenage years or in the early years of adulthood. The symptoms of bipolar can be confusing and easily missed which is why so many people with bi polar disorder are misdiagnosed and overlooked resulting in unnecessary suffering but had they been given proper bipolar disorder treatment and support, they could lead a rich and fulfilling life.
Facts And Fiction About Bi-polar Disorder
Fiction: People with bi-polar disorder can't get better and go on to lead a normal life
Fact: A lot of the people with bi-polar disorder have successful careers, lead happy lives, and enjoy satisfying relationships. Living with bi-polar disorder is a big challenge but with proper bipolar disorder treatment and a solid support system, it is possible to live a full life while managing the symptoms.
Fiction: Those people who suffer with bi polar disorder go back and forth between highs and lows
Fact: Some may alternate between extreme periods of mania and depression but more often than not they are depressed more than they are manic. The mania may even be so slight that it can go unrecognised. For some people with bi polar disorder there can be long stretches when they are without any symptoms.
Fiction: Bi-polar disorder only affects ones mood
Fact: Bi-polar disorder can affect energy levels, judgement making, memory recall, awareness, eating, sleeping rhythms, sexual appetite and self-esteem. Additionally, bi-polar disorder has been linked to anxiety attacks, solvent/substance abuse, as well as health problems like diabetes, heart disease, severe headaches and high blood pressure.
Fiction: Apart from taking medication, nothing can be done to control bi-polar disorder
Fact: While taking medication makes up the bulk of bipolar disorder treatment, therapy and self-motivating strategies will also play an important part in the overall treatment. By exercising regularly you can help control your symptoms, getting a good nights sleep, healthy diet, monitoring your moods, minimise stress levels, and having supportive people around.
Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder mood episodes
Bipolar disorder symptoms can be very different in different people. The symptoms of bipolar vary widely in their pattern, severity, and frequency. Some people are more prone to mania and some are more prone to depression, while others switch equally between the two types. Some may have regular mood changes, while others may experience a few over a lifetime.
There are four types of moods experienced in bipolar disorder:- mania, hypomania, depression and then there are mixed episodes. Each has a unique set of symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of mania
In the manic phase feelings of high energy, creativity, and euphoria are common. During a manic episode people often talk a mile a minute, are hyperactive, and sleep very little. They often feel like they're invincible and destined to do great things.
While mania may feel good at first, it usually ends up spiralling out of control. People behave recklessly during a manic episode, doing things like, gambling away savings, engaging in abnormal sexual activities, or making disastrous business decisions. They can also become angry and aggressive, picking fights or lashing out when other people don't agree with their decisions. They can blame everyone for being against them when their behaviour is criticized. They may even become delusional or start hearing things.
Some common signs and symptoms of mania include:
Unusually "high" feeling and optimism or being extremely irritable Unrealistic, beliefs about one's own abilities or powers Having very little sleep, but still feeling extremely energetic Talking so rapidly that others can't understand what you are saying Racing thoughts; switching quickly from one idea to the next Easily distracted and unable to concentrate Making bad judgements and being impulsive Acting without thinking about the consequences or dangers involved Delusions and hallucinations (in the most severe cases)
Hypomania is a lesser form of mania. When in a hypomanic state they feel on top of the world, full of energy and prolific but they are still able to carry on with their normal day-to-day lives and they never quite lose touch with reality. Other people may think that people with hypomania are just in a very good mood but hypomania can result in making bad decisions and can harm relationships, work and reputations. In addition, a period of hypomania often turns into full-blown mania or it is followed by major depression.
Signs and symptoms of bipolar depression
Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity. There are also strong arguments for seeing depression as an adaptive defence mechanism. A low or depressed mood can increase an individual's ability to cope with situations in which the effort to pursue a major goal could result in danger. In such situations, low motivation may give an advantage by inhibiting certain actions. It is normally accepted that a depressed person can be defined as experiencing feelings of sadness, helplessness and hopelessness. However a growing body of research suggests that there are significant differences between bipolar depression and regular depression, especially when it comes to their recommended treatments. Most people with bipolar depression do not respond well to antidepressants. In fact, there is a risk that bipolar disorder can be made worse by antidepressants, by triggering mania or hypomania and causing rapid swings between moods or by interfering with other stabilizing drugs.
Signs and symptoms of a mixed episode
A mixed episode of bi polar disorder features symptoms of both manic or hypomanic episodes and depression. Common signs are depression combined with agitation, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, easily distracted and racing thoughts. This combination of heightened energy level and depressive mood makes for a particularly high risk of suicide.
Signs and symptoms of bipolar depression
Despite having many similar symptoms, some symptoms are more common in bipolar depression than in normal depression, eg. bipolar depression will more than likely involve signs of irritability, guilt, as well as unpredictable mood swings, and feelings of restlessness. There is also a tendency for people with bipolar depression to move and speak slowly, they would sleep a lot and put on weight. They may even develop a psychotic depression in which they lose contact with reality and find it hard to function well at work and in social contacts.
Common symptoms of bipolar depression include:
Hopelessness, sadness, or feeling empty Feeling irritable Unable to experience pleasure Tired or lacking energy Drained both physically and mentally Loss of appetite Fluctuating weight Poor sleep Unable to concentrate Poor memory Feeling guilty and worthless Thoughts of dying and suicide
The different faces of bipolar disorder
Bipolar I Disorder (mania or a mixed episode) The classic manic-depressive form, consisting of at least one manic episode or mixed episode and sometimes Bipolar I Disorder has at least one attack of depression.
Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania and depression) Bipolar II disorder doesn't involve full-blown manic episodes, instead, it involves episodes of hypomania and deep depression.
Cyclothymia (hypomania and mild depression) Cyclothymia is a less severe form of bipolar disorder. Usually it involves cycles of mood swings, with less severe symptoms than full-blown mania or depression.
At the first signs of bipolar depression in yourself or someone else, get help at once. Pretending it's not happening won't make it go away; in fact, it will almost certainly make things worse. Leaving it untreated can lead to problems in everything part of your life, your career, your relationships, and your health. Early diagnosis and getting treatment can help prevent these complications.
If you put off getting treatment because you like the feeling you get when you're having a manic episode, just remember that these feelings of being energetic and the euphoria have a high price to pay, as they can and often do, turn destructive, hurting yourself and the people you care about the most.
Basics of bipolar disorder treatment
Bipolar disorder needs long-term and continuous treatment. Since it is a chronic, recurring illness, it is vitally important to continue the treatment although you may be feeling better. In most cases people with bipolar disorder will need medication to stave off new episodes and stay symptom-free.
Medication alone for bipolar disorder is usually not enough to fully control the symptoms. The most effective treatments involves a combination of medication, therapy, changes of life style, with family and social support. Diagnosis can be tricky and treatment is often difficult, therefore it's best to work with an experienced psychiatrist. For safety reasons, medication should be closely monitored, and a psychiatrist who is skilled in treatment of bipolar disorder can help you get through the difficult times.
Learn more about treatment
The aim of treatment for bipolar disorder is about more than just the relief of symptoms. It is about getting to the point where it no longer disrupts your life. With the right treatments you can reach this goal. It isn't easy, dealing with bipolar disorder but it doesn't have to control your life and in order to successfully deal with bipolar disorder, smart choices have to be made. Your daily routine has a significant impact on your moods. Learn everything you can about bipolar disorder. The more you know, the better you'll understand how, by persevering with the treatment, you are assisting your own recovery.
Avoid high stressful situations, balance your working time and social life, try some relaxation such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. It is important to have friends and family you can turn to for help and encouragement. Try joining a support group. By having healthy sleeping, eating, and exercising routines you can help to stabilize your moods. Having and keeping a regular sleep routine is particularly important. Take note of your symptoms and in particular, watch out for any signs that your moods are getting out of control so you can deal with the problem before it begins. Therefore helping yourself and your loved ones to live with and cope with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder and suicide
Bipolar disorder depression is often very severe and one of the major risk factors is suicide. In fact, some people suffering from bipolar disorder depression are more than likely to attempt suicide than those suffering from normal depression. The more frequent the episodes of bi polar depression, and mixed episodes of depression are occurring, the higher the risk of suicide is. A family history of suicide, a history of alcohol or drug abuse, or the early stages of the disease can also heighten the risk of suicide.
Possible warning signs of suicide include:
Talk of death, self-harming, or suicide Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness Feeling useless and incapable Taking unnecessary risks Acting as if going away and not returning, by getting affairs in order Abnormal interest in weapons and harmful medications
It is important that any talk of suicide is taken seriously. If you have good reason to think that someone is suicidal, always get professional help.
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