Bipolar Disorder: The Basics
minute you're confident that you can conquer the world, the next moment
you’re sobbing uncontrollably.
Perhaps it’s not just a case of normal emotions. It could be that you have bipolar disorder. Formerly called manic
bipolar disorder is characterized by incredibly wide mood swings.
At one end of the pendulum is the mania – that feeling that you are
capable of absolutely anything accompanied by a euphoric feeling.
you just don’t “feel” it, you absolutely know it. A person with
bipolar disorder will, more often than not, act on this feeling, embarking
on new adventures that very often either are out of his grasp, or are
quickly abandoned as he experiences the down side of the bipolar syndrome.
in a manic episode are much more likely to act recklessly or take chances
not normally characteristic of the person.
Aggressive behavior is a symptom of a manic episode, as is the
inability to concentrate.
the down side of the syndrome is the depression – agonizing lows where
suicidal thoughts can creep in. A
person with bipolar experiencing a depressive episode very often has trouble
with the daily functioning of his life.
an individual in the depressive episode experiences disturbances in both his
sleep patterns and appetite. He
may also have an apathetic attitude toward his daily routine along with
unexplained fatigue. Chronic
unexplained pain is also a signal of the depressive episode of bipolar.
fact, bipolar disorder can be classified into several categories depending
on the severity of the symptoms. Bipolar
I disorder is the most severe, and involves mood swings with the widest of
emotions separating them. Bipolar
II disorder is a milder form. The intensity of the manic and the depression
are less stark. Cyclothymic
disorder represents the mildest of the three yet.
are still two more varieties of the disorder.
One is called mixed bipolar disorder in which the symptoms of the
mania and the depression are present at the same time. While the person experiences feelings that are clearly
grandiose, underlying that energy is an irritable angry mood.
other is called rapid-cycling bipolar disorder and it’s exactly as the
name implies. With this mental health problem, the episodes of mania and
depression recur four or more times in a twelve-month period.
Some individuals, in fact, experience multiple episodes within a
single week and some within a single day.
these characteristics develop later in the course of the initial bipolar
disorder and seldom emerge on their own overnight. Women are more affected by rapid cycling bipolar disorder
than men. This particular kind
of bipolar also places a person at an increased risk for severe depression
as well as attempts at suicide. Some
professionals claim that the use of antidepressants actually trigger this
rapid cycling as well as prolong its presence.
individual episodes of bipolar – the highs and the lows – may last for
several weeks or several months. These episodes cause a disturbance not only
in the life of the individual afflicted, but also for the entire family.
disorder is often diagnosed when an individual is between the ages of 18 to
22 years of age. Increasingly,
diagnosis of children younger than 18 is being recognized. Medical specialists say that the younger the individual is
when the disorder is diagnosed the more treatable it is. Interestingly, those individuals who do not have this
disorder diagnosed when the symptoms first appear are more likely to deal
with the problem through alcohol and illegal drugs.
Bipolar Disorder: Causes and Treatments
the normal reaction of the person who is suffering with bipolar disorder.
Why do I have this problem? Family
members, too, question the cause. Parents
tend to blame themselves and siblings very often feel guilty for a variety
answer to that question is: No
one really knows.
science has yet to uncover a reason why some people develop bipolar
disorder. It's believed,
though, that a variety of biological, genetic and environmental factors seem
to work together to trigger these episodes.
appears that bipolar disorder may stem from chemical imbalances in
neurotransmitters – the nerve cells in the brain. In some cases, bipolar disorder is partially the result of a
genetic disposition, but that's not so for every individual.
are certain factors that raise a person's risk of developing the disorder.
In almost up to 90 percent of the cases, it appears that there's a family
history of depression – not necessarily of bipolar, however.
majority of the time the illness abruptly appears with little warning.
Some experts say that it could be triggered by stress.
However, it is not unheard of that some individuals have developed
this condition gradually.
even the most severe forms of bipolar are treatable. The characteristic mood
swings can be stabilized and the other symptoms alleviated with continued
treatment. Usually this is done
with a combination of medications and other therapies.
acute episodes of the mania and depression are treated with medications
commonly called mood stabilizers. Lithium is generally used for the manic
episodes and appears to be very effective for most individuals.
is not without side effects. Those
taking lithium may complain of nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, muscle
weakness as well as fatigue. Some
individuals find they have an increased thirst. Some even complain of being dazed and unusually sleepy.
As the dosage is increased some people notice a marked, but mild hand
is not a medication that should be taken lightly. It's extremely important that the proper dose is provided.
It is possible to take toxic levels of this drug.
Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, severe diarrhea as well as
slurred speech, blurred vision, confusion, stupor and an irregular pulse.
is also a viable option for the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder as
well. In addition to this drug,
antidepressants can be used even though there seems to be a bit of
controversy with this class of medication.
Some experts claim that antidepressants, while working on the
depressive episode only increase the intensity of the next manic episode.
However, lithium is still the only medication shown to reduce the
rate of suicide among those individuals suffering with bipolar.