It’s an equal-opportunity biological condition that can have serious psychological symptoms. With more than 2 million people in America alone living with the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, there’s no denying its presence. But what is this condition and what are the warning signs?

Bipolar disorder results when there is a chemical imbalance in the brain. When neurotransmitters are not at the levels they should be, those prone to this condition will very likely suffer a wide variety of symptoms. The disorder itself is characterized by sharp, and sometimes frightening, mood swings.

A person suffering from bipolar disorder will generally go through very high highs, or manic phases, and very low, lows, or depressive states. As the pendulum swings, so too will the moods. The different phases of bipolar disorder can also appear at once in a middle-of-the-road presentation.

The dangers of this disorder are many. During manic phases, for example, a person might take greater risks than normal, make extremely poor choices and deprive themselves of sleep, as well, sometimes for days on end. In the midst of a depressive phase, serious symptoms may arise. The risk of suicide is higher for those with untreated bipolar disorder, as well.

Determining if a person has bipolar disorder can be a tricky undertaking. This is especially complicated by the mood swings. When these swings and their symptoms are noticed, however, there is likely a cause for concern.

Look for these things during a high swing:

  • Increased self-importance or overestimation of talents and abilities.
  • A reduced need for rest. Some people with the disorder have been known to go for days at a time without sleep.
  • Hyperactive speech patterns, i.e., talking too much, too loudly and too rapidly.
  • Increased desire to take risks. Manic phase often presents with patients taking on mass amounts of debt, doing drugs, having casual sex where they wouldn’t have before and so on.
  • Racing thoughts, restlessness. During the manic phase, it can be impossible for a person to slow down or even stick to one topic or activity.

During a depressed state, a manic-depressive might display these symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Appetite changes that might include weight loss or gain.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and hopelessness.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.
  • Lack of interest in hobbies, activities or even work.

A person suffering from true bipolar disorder will experience swings between the two phases. If the symptoms are present and noticeable, medical help might be required. Although the visible symptoms of this condition are psychological, the fact is the disorder is biological of nature. While it cannot be cured, there are ways to control it. Brining the symptoms into check can help a person lead a normal life and go about daily activities with little no trouble.

Getting help for bipolar disorder is imperative to prevent the more serious complications of this condition. From the risk-taking of the manic swings to the suicidal tendencies of the depressive episodes, there are dangers riddled throughout this condition. Management and control can greatly reduce the risks.

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