Bipolar disorder is a complex and sometimes devastating mental illness. It's characterized by extreme mood swings, which is why the disease was once known as manic depression.
Today nearly 6 million American adults suffer from the condition. In this article we'll discuss the risk factors for bipolar disorder, the symptoms to look out for and the latest treatments available.
Bipolar disorder is chronic, incurable and can be life-threatening. Nearly 1 in 5 commit suicide. But bipolar disorder can be controlled. Many of the world's most creative and successful people are living with this illness every day.
The combination of medications and good psychosocial services can mean that somebody with bipolar disorder has a tremendous shot at having really quite a normal regular life.
People living with bipolar disorder experienced dramatic shifts in mood, energy and thoughts.
You feel the need to go out and conquer but you're not in control of yourself. You're sinking, you have to wait till you've hit the bottom of the darkest pit of your life.
The word bipolar means two opposites, which refers to these extreme mood swings from energized mania to deep depression. These moods have no pattern, they may come and go suddenly and single episodes of mania or depression can last for months or even years.
Bipolar disorder is a cyclical disorder, where it's really only a matter of time until another episode hits. During so-called manic episodes, people say they feel important and energized.
You're not in control of yourself. Spending money that you don't have, putting yourself deep into debt. You can have racing thoughts, delusions of grandeur. You're talking so fast, you're very tangental. People don't understand what you're talking about.
Symptoms of mania can also include elevated sex drive, substance abuse, hostility and reckless impulsive behaviour.
If the episodes are severe, patients may even experience hallucinations and delusions. When bipolar mood episode cycle to depression, people often feel overwhelming sadness and debilitating despair.
The symptoms of depression include loss of energy, changes in sleep and eating patterns and thoughts of suicide. While these symptoms can be overwhelming, nearly half of those suffering from bipolar disorder do not get the medical care they need.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, it's important to seek medical attention before a major crisis develops.
A lot of patients will come in and tell me, well, you know this is not like a medical disease, it doesn't kill you. But, in fact, if untreated it can kill you.
There are several types of bipolar disorder classified in a continuum from mild to severe. The two major types are bipolar one- the most severe form of the illness, and bipolar 2, which is milder.
Nobody's bipolar disorder is just like the next person's. The intensity of symptoms, the cycling of symptoms looks really different from person to person.
Bipolar disorder affects men and women of every race, age and economic class. While no one knows the exact cause of the illness, researchers have identified several contributing factors.
Studies show that bipolar disorder like other depressive illnesses can result from abnormally functioning neurotransmitters, which are chemical messengers that help regulate mood. Since the illness often runs in families, scientists believe there is also a strong genetic link.
Still, some people with the genes may never develop the illness. Researchers suspect it takes a combination of biological genetic and environmental factors to trigger bipolar episodes.
If you have a very strong genetic predisposition to bipolar disorder, you could have the most idyllic life in the world and you still may get sick.
If you have a very weak predisposition to bipolar disorder, you may have to have a lot of stressors in your life to really cause this disease to kick in.
While there is no known cure for bipolar disorder, a combination of medication, psychotherapy and lifestyle changes can help those with this illness live full productive lives.