What Is A Person with Bipolar Like?
Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic depression) is a mental health disorder that causes extreme changes in mood, energy, and concentration. A person with bipolar disorder may sometimes feel excessively elated, impulsive, irritable, or irrational (mania), hypomanic (a milder form of mania), or excessively sad (major depression).
There are four types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I is characterized by one or more episodes of mania that last at least seven days or be so severe hospitalization is needed. Most people with bipolar I also have episodes of depression, though depression is not required for a diagnosis.
- Bipolar II is characterized by depressive episodes that switch back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but never a “full” manic episode.
- Cyclothymic disorder (or cyclothymia) describes a chronically unstable mood characterized by hypomania and mild depression for at least two years.
- Bipolar disorder, “other specified” and “unspecified” is reserved for when a person does not meet the criteria of the above types but still experiences periods of clinically significant abnormal mood elevation.
What Are Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
Symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
- Feeling abnormally and persistently happy, angry, hyperactive, impulsive, and irrational at different times
- Feelings last at least a week, and maybe so severe people need to be hospitalized
- Moods can change rapidly from euphoria to depression or irritability
- Symptoms of mania can interfere with work and other responsibilities and can make it difficult to maintain relationships
- Other symptoms of mania may include:
- Feeling one is important, has special powers, and is superior to others
- Feel high or elated
- Decreased need for sleep
- Excessive talking/talking very fast
- Increased activity
- Feeling as if they can do a lot at once
- Racing thoughts
- Loss of appetite
- Short attention span
- Inappropriate laughing or joking
- Provoking arguments
- Going on spending sprees
- Eating or drinking excessively
- Inappropriate sexual activity
- Less severe than mania, but still causes abnormal mood changes
- Episodes are usually briefer than manic episodes but last for at least four days.
- May not seriously affect the ability to work or attend school
- Some people function better during a hypomanic episode
- Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, emptiness, worry
- Difficulty performing everyday tasks such as bathing, getting dressed, and preparing food
- People may feel sad most of the day or may have little or no interest in activities they used to enjoy
- Other symptoms of depression may include:
- Weight changes
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Speaking slowly
- Being easily irritated
- Loss of energy, sluggishness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Feeling unable to accomplish simple tasks
- Decreased or absent sex drive
- Inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia)
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide (tell your doctor if this occurs)
- The risk of suicide is higher in people with bipolar disorder than in people with other psychiatric disorders, including depression
- If you or someone you know are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
The cause of the bipolar disorder is unknown. It is believed it may be related to an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.
Factors that may contribute to the development of bipolar disorder include:
How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
There is no single test used to diagnose bipolar disorder. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is based upon medical and psychiatric history, a person’s symptoms, and a physical and mental status examination, and family history may be considered.
Depending on the symptoms, other tests may be performed to rule out underlying medical conditions.
What Is the Treatment for Bipolar Disorder?
Treatment of bipolar disorder varies depending on whether mania or depression is being treated.
Treatment of mania in bipolar disorder includes:
- Antipsychotic medicines
- Other medications
Treatment of depression in bipolar disorder includes:
- Antipsychotic medicines
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
Maintenance therapy for bipolar disorder includes:
- Use of medications as discussed above
- Psychotherapy (counseling)
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