Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also referred to as “manic-depressive disorder”, is characterized by intense mood swings. While mental illness can trigger monumental disturbances in a person’s life, bipolar disorder can cause chaos in the lives of the people afflicted with it. An illness that induces extreme mood swings that fluctuate from feelings of utter despair to euphoria, bipolar disorder causes sufferers to feel that they’ve lost control of their minds. The ongoing loss of control that they experience can cause them to feel like every day of their lives is an uphill battle. While the medical profession doesn’t completely understand the causes of the disorder, they’ve gained a greater understanding of the bipolar spectrum over the last few years. Fortunately, there are several treatments that can keep bipolar disorder in check, making it possible for the person affected to live a happy, productive life.

Symptoms Bipolar Disorder

The basic signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder include recurrent changes in mood, shifting between periods of depression and elevated states of anxiety or mania. Although some people with the illness experience more emotional highs than lows or vice versa, there are individuals that experience what is referred to as “rapid-cycling”, meaning that their moods change suddenly and drastically, in a manner of minutes.

Other symptoms of bipolar disorder include feeling abnormally happy and energetic and making reckless decisions while in manic states. While in depressive states, sufferers can experience extreme feelings of hopelessness, feel the overpowering urge to cry and have a hyper-negative outlook on life. With bipolar disorder, they don’t just feel down in the dumps; their depressive state can result in suicidal thoughts that shift over to feelings of mania and intense energy. These extreme mood shifts can occur frequently (every week) or surface sporadically (perhaps twice a year). Additionally, there isn’t a clearly defined pattern to look for when it comes to the mood swings because one doesn’t routinely occur before the other. The length of time sufferers remain in one state or the other deviates as well. Paying attention to warning signs or triggers can help the affected person seek the appropriate treatment.

Getting Help for Bipolar Disorder

If you or someone you love is experiencing the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder, it’s important to seek the help of a professional. It’s not uncommon for those with the disorder to feel reluctant to seek help initially, in some cases because they don’t realize how disruptive the disorder is to their lives (often family and friends notice first). They may even enjoy the sense of euphoria they experience, however, it’s important to treat the condition, learning how to manage their emotional states and live a full, productive life. Bipolar disorder won’t go away on its own, however, with the right treatment patients can live a stable and high quality life.

Psychotherapy and medications are the most commonly prescribed treatment strategies for those suffering from bipolar disorder. Treatments for bipolar disorder can be very successful if the prescribed treatment plan is adhered to, even on days when the afflicted person feel fine.

Family-focused therapies are also involved and can help family members as well, teaching communication counseling, coping strategies and problem-solving techniques. Psychoeducation is also a powerful therapeutic tool that can teach those living with bipolar disorder about their condition and the best ways to treat it. It also helps patients and their loved ones learn how to notice trigger points and impending mood swings, making it possible to address the problem before a full-blown episode occurs.

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