Generally, bipolar disorders, or manic depression, can be put under the general category of depression, but its manifestations are very different as compared to the others. A bipolar disorder is characterized by two seemingly complete opposite behaviors that are found in one person. This condition has no known cure, but through treatment, the symptoms may be manageable. Like medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder should be kept under control for the rest of an individual's life.
Bipolar disorders are characterized by severe mood swings. An individual may appear to have depression at one moment, then become manic at the next. Feelings and emotions during a major depressive episode occur during the depression phase, and this can last for about two weeks. After that, the individual would show an almost instant upward shift in mood. This is when the manic episode begins. The individual now has increased energy, is more productive, and has less need for sleep. People who are in this state often say that thy are feeling euphoric. During these manic episodes, the individual becomes much less inclined to seek treatment.
On the other hand, people around the individual in this manic state will not necessarily interpret his or her behavior as more productive or more energetic. On the contrary, they may even view this individual as dangerous. During manic episodes, the individual becomes very talkative and easily excited, and he or she is very active until all his or her energy is depleted. Individuals in manic episodes may also engage in extremely risky behaviors.
This condition is very complex, thus making it difficult for professionals to diagnose. Many individuals have had to live with the condition for several years before they seek a diagnosis and a corresponding treatment. Experts believe it is caused by an imbalance in the brain chemistry, but some studies are showing that there may be a genetic factor. The disease itself may occur intermittently throughout an individual's life.
Bipolar disorders are primarily treated by medication. A combination of anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-convulsants, and antidepressants are typically administered to patients in order to manage the extreme mood swings of this condition. During treatment, an individual may expect to have his or her medication change all throughout its course. A single prescribed dosage does not always have the same effect at all times. Some cases call for the application of psychotherapy, but this method experiences limited success if done without medication.
Bipolar disorders can become very dangerous when untreated. Around seventeen percent of untreated bipolar disorder patients commit suicide. For those who suffer from major depression, the rate of suicide is only about 10 percent.