What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental anomaly characterized by extreme mood swings, with brief periods of normalcy in between. It involves marked changes in the thoughts and behavior of the individual, which can last hours, days, weeks or even span through months. Bipolar disorder can hit people of all age groups, races, ethnic groups and social causes.
However, usually it affects a person during early childhood or adolescence and persists throughout life. The reasons can be many, ranging from genetic, physiological, environmental, social, to psychological and neurological causes. The trigger may be everyday stress one faces in life, or some trauma, a relationship mess or career concerns and future uncertainties. Other reasons may be affliction by some chronic ailment, changes in health habits, substance abuse or hormonal changes.
Bipolar disorders affect relationships, performance in studies and work, and sometimes may even be fatal.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar symptoms, if recognized early, help stall serious ill-effects. Though the symptoms are specific to the individual, the general warning signs of mania are difficulty to sleep, irritability, spending more and abnormal sexual drive. An affected person can exhibit great happiness, anger or aggressiveness at times. They can exhibit a very high self-esteem and feel they can never be destroyed or won over. They look at times highly energetic and capable of multi-tasking. They talk a lot, faster, changing topics quickly and are not interrupted by anyone or anything. Their thoughts are racing faster than their talking. They are highly adventurous and long to take risks such as trying abusive drugs, alcohol, performing stunts and so on. There is no readiness to accept that anything is wrong. Excessive gambling is also a sign of bipolar disorder.
On the other extreme the symptoms include tiredness, lack of interest in sex or to meet people. The affected individual may suddenly start exhibiting extreme sadness and cry often. They are low in energy and lack the enthusiasm and motivation to make life interesting. They suffer from extreme guilty, helpless and worthless feeling. They are very sensitive to failures and rejection. Lack of concentration, memory and decision-making ability is evident. They tend to sleep and eat more, and often complain of headache and stomachache. Thoughts of death, suicide and self-destruction occur repeatedly. Pessimistic thoughts are more predominant.
Severe cases of mania or depression shows signs of hallucinations or delusions, wherein the patient believes one’s own self to be a famous personality or a notorious criminal.
Coping with the Situation
Bipolar disorder cannot be recognized by blood tests or scan, but other physical factors causing mood swings cannot be ruled out. Many sufferers of bipolar disorder report mania symptoms during spring season and depression signs during fall and winter, proving the interference of environment.
One out of every ten people is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It is a myth that only weak people are affected by mood swings. Many intelligent and creative persons have been diagnosed or believed to have experienced mood disorders. The list comprises actors, entertainers, authors, journalists, musicians, and so on.
People with bipolar disorder are more likely to suffer from co-occurrences of anxiety disorders like post-trauma stress disorder, social phobias and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Bipolar mental disorder may lead to other ailments like thyroid diseases, heart problems, migraine headaches, diabetes and obesity.
Bipolar symptoms must be identified early, diagnosed and treated to help the person live life to the fullest.
Medication for bipolar disorder is based on mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics and antidepressants. But, it does not give positive response immediately. The medication for bipolar symptoms produce side effects like, dizziness, headache, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn, stuffy nose, dry mouth, bloating, acne, joint and muscle ache, and brittle nails or hair.
Nutritional factors help overcome mood swings to certain extent. It involves supplementing omega-3-fatty acids, vitamin B and magnesium in the diet. Psychotherapy is the effective approach to control and stabilize the mood of the sufferer.
Though curing bipolar disorder is not very easy, it can be treated effectively with long-term care. Managing persons with bipolar symptoms is possible with the comprehensive support of family, friends, and health professionals who help them lead life productively with utmost satisfaction. Right treatment begins with identifying the right professional. The expert’s skill, knowledge and interest to help must give confidence and trust to the patient.
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