When people discuss bi-polar disorder they refer to a condition known as manic depression. This is associated with unusual and quick switches from a good mood to a sour mood, when someone says "wow, they're bi-polar". It is just another in the many forms of depression. Manic depression is not the same as just being sad or upset for over something in particular. Everyone has occasional highs and lows in their moods. But people with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings. They can go from feeling very sad, despairing, helpless, worthless, and hopeless (depression) to feeling as if they are on top of the world, hyperactive, creative, and grandiose (mania). This disease is called bipolar disorder because the mood of a person with bipolar disorder can alternate between two completely opposite poles, euphoric happiness and extreme sadness. Manic depression is a much more serious condition. Another stage of depression is the diagnosis for bi-polar disorder.
Millions of people in the United States are diagnosed with Manic Depression every year. In general 17 million people battle depression each year in America. Genetic factors are the main cause of bipolar disorder genetics. Life experiences and psychological processes do not seem to have any aetiological effect. Bipolar disorder is often treated with anti-manic, and sometimes other, psychiatric drugs. Psychotherapy only has a role in helping to gain insight once there has been substantial recovery from acute symptoms. In serious cases in which there is a risk of harm to oneself or others involuntary commitment may be used; these cases generally involve severe manic episodes with dangerous behaviour or depressive episodes with suicidal ideation. There are widespread problems with social stigma, stereotypes and prejudice against individuals with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
The symptoms of manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder are classified according to either manic or depressive episodes. Manic depressive states are diagnosed as:
* Manic episode: A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with 3 or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, or for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, 4 additional symptoms must be present.
* Depressive episode: A depressive episode is diagnosed if 5 or more of these symptoms last most of the day, nearly every day, or for a period of 2 weeks or longer.
* Mixed bipolar episode: In some people, however, symptoms of mania and depression can occur together in a mixed bipolar state. A person could have a very sad, hopeless mood, while feeling energized at the same time.
Unfortunately only about1/3 of those will be diagnosed and receive help. When the sufferer refuses aid, there can be no cure. Mental illness is a red stop sign for many Americans, they don't want to deal with it. Being crazy isn't something people want associated with themselves. Sometimes, severe episodes of mania or depression include symptoms of psychosis (or psychotic symptoms). Common psychotic symptoms are hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or otherwise sensing the presence of things not actually there) and delusions (false, strongly held beliefs not influenced by logical reasoning or explained by a person's usual cultural concepts). Psychotic symptoms in bipolar disorder tend to reflect the extreme mood state at the time. For example, delusions of grandiosity, such as believing one is the President or has special powers or wealth, may occur during mania; delusions of guilt or worthlessness, such as believing that one is ruined and penniless or has committed some terrible crime, may appear during depression. People with bipolar disorder who have these symptoms are sometimes incorrectly diagnosed as having schizophrenia, another severe mental illness.
It's very complex when a disease impacts the brain. The deep mood swings of bipolar disorder may last for weeks or months, causing great disturbances in the lives of those affected, and those of family and friends, too. Today, a growing volume of research suggests that bipolar disorder occurs across a spectrum of symptoms, and that many people aren't correctly diagnosed. Left untreated, bipolar disorder generally worsens, and the suicide rate is high among those with bipolar disorder. But with effective treatment, you can live an enjoyable and productive life despite bipolar disorder. It is hard to shake the stigma that comes with the diagnosis. But it's not a sign of being less when this disease is diagnosed. You're not crazy. This is a disease like any other. Unlike ordinary mood swings, bipolar disorder is much more intense and disruptive to everyday functioning, affecting energy, activity levels, judgment, and behavior.
During a manic episode, a person might impulsively quit a job, charge up huge amounts of debt, or feel rested after sleeping two hours. It can be treated. First it has to be identified. A depressive disorder is a syndrome (group of symptoms) that reflects a sad and/or irritable mood exceeding normal sadness or grief. More specifically, the sadness of depression is characterized by a greater intensity and duration and by more severe symptoms and functional disabilities than is normal.
Depressive signs and symptoms are characterized not only by negative thoughts, moods, and behaviors but also by specific changes in bodily functions (for example, crying spells, body aches, low energy or libido, as well as problems with eating, weight, or sleeping). The functional changes of clinical depression are often called neurovegetative signs. This means that the nervous system changes in the brain cause many physical symptoms that result in diminished activity and participation.
All forms of depression are still being studied by doctors and researchers. It has been shown that depression can be brought on by many possibilities. It is known that biological, genetic, and environmental factors have to be taken into consideration. We know that it seems to be caused by a chemical imbalance on the brain. Stress is another major factor in depression. Life is full of stress. Work related issues or the dynamics of a dysfunctional family can create it. Depression knows no bounds. Both the rich and the poor contract it. It doesn't care about race. Color or nationality provide no protection from this illness.
"How do you recognise if you are manic or depressed? When you take medication, what do you expect to happen? Medical descriptions aren't particularly helpful. This chapter describes things to look out for when manic, depressed, and on some drugs.
"All you have to do is take the tablets - why, I take vitamins every morning." When you get that comment, and you will get that comment, what exactly do you tell them to make them understand...
When I am Hypomanic / Manic
Twenty specific symptoms I use to identify if I am becoming manic.
When I am Depressed
Twenty patterns of behaviour I associate with being depressed.
When Official Signs of Depression / Manic Depression
Taken from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. (DSM-IV).
The drugs are not going to work quite the way the psychiatrist said they would, or the way you expect them to, or the way anybody else expects them to. You are warned.
About Taking Drugs
So you start taking the drugs your doctor prescribed, and everything is fine, yes? No.
When I am on Tegretol
Tegretol is an effective antimanic for me. But it stops working after a while. How I feel when I am taking it and the side effects.
When I am on Epilim (Depakote)
Epilim stabilises me, but I can't function at normal. And I get unpleasant side effects which vary by dosage.
When I am on Prozac
Prozac seems to work well on countering my depression. I'm not getting any side effects either.
When I am on a High Dose of Prozac
Taking 80 mg Prozac works to stabilise my mood swings. With side effects.
When I am on Wellbutrin (Zyban)
Finally, a drug that seems to work the way I want!
When I Found Out I was Manic Depressive
How I felt in the psychiatrist's office immediately after I was diagnosed."
There are similar symptoms no matter the type of depression. The frequent change in personality, the mood swings that go up and then goes down. Depression can result in insomnia. If you have no hope, feel helpless or desperate, that could be depression. Depression is real when it interferes with your ability to live your life. But people with depression have a light at the end of the tunnel. There is assistance. Doctors can administer drugs or herbal remedies to treat it. There are also medical professionals that can help your illness through 'talk therapy'". Support groups can be of assistance with manic depression. Look for assistance first.
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