Bipolar disorder, also called manic depressive illness, is a serious psychiatric illness characterized by extreme emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression). People with it experience unusual emotional fluctuations – from extremely happy, sometimes referred to as “bipolar disorder mania” or “superman syndrome,” to extremely sad and depressed, sometimes referred to as “bipolar disorder depression.”
Bipolar sufferers experience alternating periods of mania and depression. They often go from highly active, seemingly energized, to extremely sad and inactive, seemingly paralyzed by depression. The sufferer can experience one episode of mania and depression or multiple episodes of both.
If you suspect that you or a loved one may be suffering from bipolar disorder, seek medical attention immediately
There are several ways to diagnose bipolar disorder. Your doctor will ask about your personal history and present you with a list of questions. The answers to these questions will help the doctor determine if your symptoms are related to another mental health issue, such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or post-traumatic stress disorder.
When in doubt, get a thorough diagnosis from a psychiatrist or licensed psychologist?
Numerous studies have concluded that bipolar disorder is hereditary and approximately 80% of patients diagnosed with bipolar have some family history of mental illness.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder usually begin in the early to mid-teens and often go undiagnosed, as parents assume this behavior is due to puberty and normal stress associated with teenagers.
Bipolar disorder is widely believed to be the result of chemical imbalances in the brain. The chemicals responsible for controlling the brain’s functions are called neurotransmitters and include noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.
To treat bipolar disorder, the most effective way is through a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
You can choose which medications you use and when to take them. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may be prescribed antidepressants or mood stabilizers, which are taken daily. You can also choose between lifestyle changes and other forms of treatment. No matter what treatment options you choose, you should try to find a healthy lifestyle and diet and maintain a regular sleep pattern.
For mild cases of bipolar disorder, lifestyle, and diet changes such as limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, avoiding too much stress, exercising, and eating a balanced diet may provide relief and decrease your symptoms.
When suffering from an episode of mania or depression, lifestyle and diet changes aren’t always enough. Medications can sometimes help, as well as therapy. Antipsychotic drugs, antidepressants, and beta-blockers are commonly prescribed in the treatment. However, they are not for everyone and must be used under a doctor’s care.
Manic episodes and depressive episodes in bipolar disorder are classified as first-degree or major depression and mania.
- A first-degree bipolar disorder episode lasts for at least four weeks and is directed at the sufferer.
- A major depression, on the other hand, occurs less frequently and is characterized by at least four or more first-degree episodes that last for a period of six months or more. These episodes may include extreme unexplained anger towards others and may be difficult for loved ones to understand.
- A manic episode is characterized by a sustained period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood, intense energy, racing thoughts, and other extreme and exaggerated behaviors.
Bipolar disorders are twice as likely to affect people who have first-degree depression or mania compared to those with second-degree depression or mania. Bipolar disorder is also more likely to affect people who have a genetic disposition.
Your medical history and will have a lot to do with your treatment options. Your medical history is often the only basis for the diagnosis, so it’s important to get all your tests and records from your doctor. Your medical history includes details about the types of medications you’re taking, including doses, length of time you’ve taken them, and the results of any diagnostic tests. It includes details about your family medical history, including whether any of your relatives have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder before. Keeping a medical history is critical to getting the right medications and the best treatment for bipolar disorder.
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