While it was initially thought that bipolar disorder only affected 1% of Americans, doctors now accept that up to 5% of the population suffers from this illness. Bipolar disorder is a neurological disorder that results in mixed moods, from depression, a low, to mania, a high. Depending on the person, the severity and length of these episodes will vary, however, here are some common symptoms that afflict those with manic depression.
Hypomania - The one blessing of bipolar disorder must be hypomania. A disproportionate number of artists and authors have been manic depressive, and the disease greatly contributed to their creativity. Hypomania is an excited state, where the person is more productive, although the downside is that hypomania can quickly progress into a dangerous manic phase.
Thoughts of Suicide - Bipolar disorder has the highest incidence of suicide compared to any mental disorder that exists. It is estimated that 15% of those suffering from manic depression will successfully commit suicide, with over 30% making the attempt. Those who experience rapid mood fluctuations such as those found in bipolar II or mixed states are at the highest risk.
Loss of Appetite - It is common for those with bipolar disorder to be either underweight or obese. The biological feedback mechanism in the brain, that tells the body to eat, does not function properly in some of those with bipolar disorder. The danger of a lack of appetite is that without food, the mind will enter into a state of mania much more readily. As well, some of those with bipolar suffer from anorexia, as a result of negative body image.
Increase in Appetite - As a method of coping with depression, some individuals with bipolar II will use food to cope. Seeing as the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine are low in manic depressive patients, foods like chocolate or sugar can temporarily alleviate mood. For someone with bipolar to lose weight, they must learn different ways to cope with their problems.