Bipolar Disorder: An Overview

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Approximately 6 million Americans or about 3 percent of all adults in the US are afflicted with bipolar disorder, a chemically-based psychiatric disorder that generally begins in the teens or early twenties. Its sufferers have a wide range of symptoms that affect their daily living.

There are two types of bipolar disorder, known as bipolar I and bipolar II disorder. With bipolar I disorder, individuals suffer from emotional highs interspersed with normal emotional states. With bipolar II, the individuals suffer from the emotional highs of the disorder interspersed with periods of lows or depression.

In the manic period of bipolar disorder, the individual often feels extreme energy, feelings of creativity and feelings of powerfulness. People who are in a manic phase often suffer from rapid speech, suffer from sleep deprivation and are overly hyper. They may also feel like they’re more powerful than others and have special powers no one else can appreciate.

But while mania has the feeling of euphoria at first, it often has becomes beyond the individual’s control. The individual often suffers from reckless and impulsive behavior when they have a manic episode and they can easily gamble too much, engage in risky sexual behavior or make bad business choices. They may also become excessively rageful, irritated by others, often choosing fights they wouldn’t otherwise make.

When one is suffering from the mental highs of bipolar disorder, doctors call it mania. The condition of hypomania occurs when a person is experiencing an elevated emotional state but isn’t experiencing all of the symptoms of mania. The common signs of mania include having impractical and grandiose ideas about oneself, feeling irritable or unusually “up” or “high”, being unable to sleep properly because of a high energy state, which goes along with their poor judgment. Concentration is poor and the individual talks about many different things at once. In more severe cases of mania, the person can experience hallucinations or delusions.

In hypomania, the symptoms are present but are just less severe. Sufferers may feel energetic and euphoric but they can actually be more productive rather than less productive. They do not suffer from hallucinations or delusions. In some cases, if left untreated, hypomania can progress to a state of mania.

In type II bipolar disorder, there are periods of bipolar depression or extreme emotional lows that alternate with the emotional highs. Some of the symptoms are like regular depression but bipolar depression often means the individual exhibits lower energy than regular depression. The sufferers tend to sleep a great deal and to move more slowly. They also have psychotic depression, which is rarely seen in regular depression.

Common symptoms associated with bipolar disorder type II depression include losing interest in those things the individual previously enjoyed, feeling sad, feeling empty, having poor energy level, having slowed mental state, thoughts of self loathing, difficulty concentrating or having a poor memory, sleeping too little or too much, having thoughts of suicide.

The treatment of bipolar disorder often means taking medication for the rest of one’s life. Common medications include the SSRI antidepressants, lithium or other mood stabilizer, taking an antipsychotic and sometimes taking a sleeping or anxiety medication. psychotherapy helps the individual deal with the condition and helps catch slips in behavior before they get out of control.

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