Bipolar disorder is a complex mental conditional and its main characteristics are extreme mood swings from extreme happiness followed by depression, which makes it difficult for a person to function properly. There are cases when, during a breakdown, some patients lose complete touch with reality. The condition comes with different symptoms but the main symptoms are severe and sudden mood swings, hence the name “bipolarity”. There are people suffering from a mild form, while others are dealing with severe symptoms.
According to stats, bipolar disorder is not that rare, currently affecting around 5.5 millions of Americans, age 18 and above. More than half of them live without getting a treatment for their condition. There are people who are showing the first symptoms early in life, during childhood, while others develop the symptoms later.
Main Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Hypomania is one of the main symptoms of the disorder and it manifests itself through a state of high energy and feeling good while the person is still aware of reality. It can present itself in a euphoric state, being very creative and energetic. These symptoms are the good part when dealing with bipolar disorder.
Symptoms may include: uncontrollable crying, sudden sadness, anxiety and lack of energy, irritability, loss of appetite, feeling tired and sleepy, and even having suicidal thoughts. When it comes to these symptoms, people suffering from bipolar disorder are mainly more depressed than ecstatic. Bipolar disorder is a condition that affects not just the mind, judgement, memory and the capacity to concentrate, but also some other bodily functions such as: appetite (causing weight loss), sleep and problems among sexual appetite.
The 5 Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are different types of bipolar disorder which are classified based on how severe the hypomania depressive episodes are.
Bipolar disorder I. Usually a person in this stage has mixed episodes for at least a week, or there are cases when the manic symptoms are so powerful that the person requires to be hospitalized.
Bipolar Disorder II. A person diagnosed with this stage has mainly depressive episodes shifting to hypomanic episodes and back.
“Mixed features” state refers to the occurrence of simultaneous symptoms of opposite mood polarities during manic, hypomanic or depressive episodes. It’s marked by high energy, sleeplessness, and racing thoughts. At the same time, the person may feel hopeless, despairing, irritable, and suicidal.
Cyclothymic Disorder. This diagnosis is given to someone who is suffering from a mild form. A person in this stage is dealing with hypomania episodes that keep changing with mild depression episodes and back. These symptoms last for at least two years.
Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder. It’s the stage when a person has all of the above symptoms.
Drugs and Alternative Methods to Treat Bipolar Disorder
Several types of medications are used to treat bipolar disorder. These include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and drugs that relieve anxiety. Psychiatrists recommend a combination of medication and talk therapy in order to initially treat the symptoms and then maintain the condition under control.
Apart from medication, there are also types of treatments like going into therapy and self-help approaches. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can be a great way to help someone who is dealing with bipolar disorder. A healthy and calm lifestyle can help really well, too. Exercising on a regular basis, sleeping 8 hours per night, a healthy diet, controlling stress and being around a supportive group of people can have a huge positive impact on the symptoms.
People suffering from bipolar disorder can live a normal life and can be successful in their careers, they can be in a relationship and have a happy family. This condition is indeed a challenge to live with but if receiving the right treatment and knowing how to correctly cope with it, anyone can overcome it.
Doctor Carlo Carandang is MD, Psychiatrist and Researcher, Contributor at various medical journals and Blogger at AnxietyBoss.com
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