Bipolar Disorder Facts

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Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder can affect anyone.  Indeed, it does affect millions of people worldwide.  Fortunately, if diagnosed properly, it is a treatable illness and a person with this disorder can lead a fulfilling and meaningful life.

Bipolar disorder usually begins in late adolescence, although it can begin at any age. This illness is not gender-specific, meaning it affects both males and females equally.  Additionally, it can be experienced in all races, ethnic groups and social classes. Furthermore, bipolar disorder tends to have a genetic link and therefore oftentimes can be found in family members. 

And similar to most other mental illnesses, like depression, bipolar disorder can negatively affect the lives of other people such as spouses and partners, family members, friends and coworkers.

Bipolar disorder, which is also known as manic depression, is evidenced by extreme changes in mood, energy, thoughts and behavior.

Use the Site Map to find specific information you need to today to learn about this important life-changing disorder.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

In general, people with this illness often experience periods of extreme highs (periods of mania) and lows (periods of depression).

Examples of symptoms of the “high” periods include:
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Increased physical energy
  • Extreme irritability
  • An inflated sense of self-worth and self-confidence
  • The pace of speech become faster than normal
  • Reckless behavior, which can lead to impaired judgment
  • Hallucinations and delusions
Examples of symptoms of the “low” periods include:
  • Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Unnecessary worrying
  • Loss of appetite
  • A feeling of indifference
  • Withdrawal from all social interactions or situations
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I and II – What Are The Differences?

The severity and patterns of symptoms of the highs and lows determine the different types of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar I Disorder

This disorder is characterized by one or more high (manic) episodes or mixed episodes (symptoms of both a mania (high) and a depression (low) occurring nearly every day for at least 1 week) and one or more major depressive episodes.

Bipolar I disorder is the most severe form of the illness marked by extreme manic episodes.

Bipolar II Disorder

This disorder is characterized by one or more depressive (low) episode accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode.

Hypomanic episodes have symptoms similar to manic episodes but are less severe, but must be clearly in contrast from a person’s non-depressed mood.

It is important to note that for some individuals, hypomanic episodes are not severe enough to cause notable problems in social activities or work.

Bipolar Disorder Treatments

  • Medications, which can include mood stabilizers, antidepressants (which can be used in combination with a mood stabilizer for people experiencing depressive episodes) and antipsychotics (which are used primarily to treat mania).
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Dietary supplements
  • Talk therapy, or psychotherapy. Talk therapy is talking with a mental health professional about your situation including your condition, your relationships with other people, and how you feel about yourself.  This trained professional can help you learn how to make sense of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Support groups and treatment centers
Bipolar Disorder in Children

Symptoms of bipolar disorder may be difficult to recognize in children, as they can be mistaken for emotions and behaviors often found in children and adolescents. Symptoms of mania and depression may appear in a variety of behaviors.

When experiencing low periods, there may be such symptoms as headaches, stomach aches, reduced performance in school, poor communication, extreme sensitivity to rejection or failure and feeling very tired.

Likewise, when experiencing high periods, children are more likely to be irritable and prone to destructive outbursts.  Unlike adults, they may not feel elated or euphoric.

Get Help

Please know that you cannot diagnose yourself - only a properly trained health professional can determine if you have bipolar disorder.  Therefore, all symptoms should be discussed with your doctor.  Bipolar disorder is a lifelong medical condition that can be managed effectively to allow a person affected by this illness to live a long, happy and fulfilling life.

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