Bipolar disorder is a diagnosis made by a psychiatrist referring to extreme mood swings. Sometimes known as manic-depression
, it is a combination of unusually elevated highs and depressive lows. Those afflicted with bipolar may experience trouble sleeping, racing thoughts, oversleeping, and depression. A main characteristic of bipolar is manic episodes, in which the individual has a strangely elevated mood. Often blacking out, and not able to remember their actions, those in a manic state can be dangerous and very impulsive.
Causes of Bipolar
Bipolar is thought to have several factors that influence its presence. Studies have shown that there is a genetic component to bipolar, but is not the only indicator. A family history of bipolar disorder may put you at risk, but it does not guarantee the presence of the disorder. The greatest factor in the development of bipolar disorder is stressful life situations. Those with bipolar have more cells that send signals to other parts of the brain, essentially causing an over-stimulation of the brain. Life situations that cause high stress cause these cells to develop more rapidly, and at a certain point, the individual may become bipolar. Of course, not everyone who experiences traumatic or stressful situations becomes bipolar. This is explained by the way the individual, who is usually very sensitive, copes with the situation. According to experts, once bipolar takes hold, the over-stimulation perpetuates itself, and the condition takes on a life of its own. Essentially, those with bipolar have a genetic predisposition, and an event or events triggered the onset.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a broad term, as the degree of bipolarity may differ greatly. Those with extreme and untreated bipolar disorder may go into manic states. Mania often comes in the form of extreme euphoria, grandiose thoughts, racing thoughts, anxiety, and extreme impulsiveness. Those experiencing a manic episode may, in some cases, have delusional thoughts, be enraged, and be unable to sleep. During a manic episode, it is common for the individual to partake in risky and impulsive behavior such as compulsive spending
or alcohol abuse
, or compulsive sex. Manic episodes are a tell-tale sign of bipolar disorder. The other "pole" of bipolar is depression. The depressive end of bipolar disorder causes fatigue, loss of interest in usually exciting activities, overwhelming sorrow, and a lack of motivation. Studies have shown that the younger someone is when affected by bipolar disorder, the more likely their first episodes will be depressive, with or without manic intervals. This often leads to an incorrect diagnosis of depression, as the depressive state of bipolar mimics the symptoms of major depression. Contrary to popular belief, those with bipolar disorder do not often go from depressed to manic rapidly, although rapid cycling does occur. Most people with bipolar disorder are depressed far more often than they are manic.
Treatment for Bipolar
Without treatment, bipolar disorder eventually affects every aspects of the person's life. Their energy levels suffer, they lack sex drive and motivation, and can go into deep depressive episodes. In order for bipolar disorder to be properly treated, it must obviously be identified first. Upon identification, medication is often the first step. An experienced psychiatrist may prescribe medications, but it often takes some time to find the right prescription for the individual. Most doctors will prescribe a mood stabilizer, while some may prefer an antidepressant. Lithium, the most popular of the bipolar disorder medications, is a mood stabilizer, and the only drug to prove to reduce risk of suicide in bipolar patients. Seeking help for bipolar disorder is vital, as the condition is lifelong, and only worsens over time.