Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive, is a brain disorder that causes shifts in energy, behavior, mood and thinking. This is a serious disorder that often leaves the person unable to carry out their daily activities. Unlike typical mood swings, someone with bipolar disorder will have changes in their mood that lasts for days, weeks and occasionally, months, during which time they will experience high episodes of mania, followed by deep depression. The onset of the disorder is not easily identified, because the symptoms are characteristic of other mood/behavior disorders.
Types of Bipolar
A bipolar diagnosis is made by following the guideline through the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). According to the DSM, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder may be one of four types:
- Bipolar I which is primarily defined by mixed or manic episodes that typically last a minimum of seven days or by the manic symptoms that become so severe the person requires immediate hospitalization. The person may also experience episodes of depression that usually last a minimum of two weeks and the symptoms of the depression or mania must be outside of the individuals usual behavior.
- Bipolar II is diagnosed when there is a pattern of depression episodes that shift with hypomania episodes without full manic or mixed episodes.
- Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (NOS) is diagnosed when the person has symptoms of bipolar that does not meet the criteria for bipolar I or bipolar II. The symptoms do not last long enough or there are too few symptoms for the primary diagnosis, however, their behavior is not their normal behavior.
- Cyclothymiacs disorder is a milder form of bipolar. Someone with cyclothymiacs has shifts of hypomania and mild depression that last for a minimum of two years, but does not have symptoms that meet the requirements for other types of bipolar.
Symptoms of Bipolar
The symptoms mood and behavioral changes that occur during a manic episode include:
- Extremely irritable mood
- Long periods of feeling "high"
- Overly happy
- Outgoing mood
- Talking fast
- Racing thoughts
- Jumping from one topic to another
- Easily distracted
- Increased goals
- Unrealistic belief in their abilities
- Impulsive behavior
- Taking part in high risk pleasures
Mood and behavior changes during an episode of depression include:
- Long periods of feeling worried
- Loss of interest in activities
- Feeling tired
- Difficulties concentrating
- Difficulties with decision making
- Difficulties remembering
- Change in sleeping and eating habits
- Thoughts of suicide
- Attempting suicide
There is currently no cure for bipolar, however, with proper care and treatment, the majority of people with bipolar disorder can have control of their symptoms and changes in mood. Treatment includes a combination of medications and therapy. Medications such as antidepressants are used to relieve the symptoms of depression and antipsychotic are often used in treating the symptoms of manic behavior. Therapy typically includes psychotherapy as well as group therapy.
Many people who are diagnosed with this disorder may also have problems with addictions such as alcohol abuse, have difficulties in school/work and have problems with relationships. Bipolar disorder tends to get worse if it is not properly treated and as the disorder progresses the episodes may become more severe and frequent.