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Bipolar Disorder

Nov 16, 2007
Bipolar disorder, also commonly known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that inflicts unusual swing not only in a person's mood but also the level of energy, irritability, aggressiveness, ability to function and temperament. Although we all experience certain changes in our mood from time to time, someone who suffers from bipolar disorder experience this in much greater intensity and severity, often it becomes so extreme and disruptive that this disorder interferes with a person's normal daily life.

This condition can be dangerous and even life-threatening if left undiagnosed and untreated. A patient who is suffering from bipolar disorder may deteriorate from feeling depressed to feeling absolutely suicidal as the sense of sadness, loneliness and hopelessness take hold. This disorder usually develops in late adolescence, around the age of eighteen or early adulthood. However many sufferers live with this condition for years before it is properly diagnosed. Without treatment, the usual course of bipolar disorder tends to go from bad to worse. The risk of suicide appears to be higher earlier in the course of the illness, consequently being able to detect the symptoms of bipolar disorder early and learning how best to manage it may help decrease the risk of death by suicide.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

How can you identify the symptoms of bipolar disorder? It is sometimes quite easy to dismiss this condition especially among teenagers as they are usually full of angst, depressed or go through different phases of intense emotions during late adolescence or early adulthood. Parents do need to keep an eye on their teenage children's feelings and if these episodes of mania or depression do not subside or stop altogether, they could well be exhibiting the symptoms of a bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings, from overly high, called a mania episode to an overly low mood called severe depression. Some of bipolar disorder's manic symptoms include restlessness, extreme irritability, super-charged energy level, racing thoughts and ideas followed by the inability to express them in an understandable manner, feeling excessively "high" or euphoric, feeling jumpy or needing very little sleep, total lack of concentration, becoming easily distracted, unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers and poor judgment. Some may also experience increased sexual drive, becoming intrusive, aggressive or provocative and still deny that anything is wrong with them.

On the other end of the scale, symptoms of a depressive episode include an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness or pessimism, a prolonged feeling of emptiness, anxiety and extreme sadness, a sense of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty in concentrating, remembering or making decisions, sleeplessness or chronic fatigue leading to excessive sleeping, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, weight gain or loss, and continuous thought of suicide or death.

Seeking Treatment

A sufferer of a bipolar disorder will need to be diagnosed by a certified professional before treatment can commence. Most people with this condition, including those with the most severe forms, can achieve substantial stabilization of their mood swings and related symptoms with proper medication and psychosocial treatment over a period of time. Both the patient and doctor must work closely together every step of the way to monitor progress and make the necessary adjustments to the treatment plan to ensure treatment effectiveness.
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