Bipolar Disorder.

Everyone occasionally has emotional ups and downs due to ‘bad’ days, or negative experiences that put them in a bad mood, but people suffering from bipolar experience moods that require management and support to ensure they aren’t controlled or defined by this disorder.

There are many mental health conditions that numerous people have to deal with daily, in a world that doesn’t always understand how difficult they are to cope with.

Luckily in recent years, with several celebrities coming forward claiming they suffer from this mental health condition, bipolar in particular is losing its negative reputation.

Public awareness has been raised of bipolar disorder. It has spread throughout the media via the internet, radio, and television shows with shows such as MTV’s ‘True Life:  I’m Bipolar’ and the BBC’s ‘The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive.’

Celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Robbie Williams, Carrie Fisher, and Tony Slattery have stepped forward to talk about how they, too, have had to learn to live with bipolar every single day.

Because often, sufferers don’t realize that they aren’t alone and that the symptoms they are dealing with every day, literally thousands of others are experiencing as well.

What is Bipolar?
This is a lifelong condition but one that can be managed by following a treatment plan.

Bipolar, which used to be known as manic depression, affects an individual’s mood swings, which can alternate from one extreme to another – severe highs to severe lows.

When a bipolar sufferer feels high, it is known as a manic episode as they tend to feel hypomania with emotions of maybe euphoria, high energy, or perhaps severe, unusual irritability.

The low mood swings tend to make one depressed, perhaps suffering from a deep sadness or hopelessness and the ability to feel pleasure in anything.

These mood swings can affect sleep, energy levels, judgment, behavior, and the ability to think clearly.

These episodes of mood swings can affect the individual occasionally, as in once or twice a year, but some people have been known to suffer from them regularly, and some people may not suffer from mood swings at all.

Do you have any of the symptoms?
Bipolar can be hard to diagnose, but there are signs or symptoms that you can look for if you suspect that your moods are trying to take over your life…

Symptoms tend to appear in an individual’s late teens or early adult years, but they can occur in children as well.

Women are more likely to receive bipolar diagnoses than men, although the reason for this remains unclear.

The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder are wide-ranging and varied. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other underlying conditions, making this condition hard to diagnose.

The signs of bipolar disorder can generally be divided into those for mania, and those for depression.  This is because an individual is unlikely to feel these conditions simultaneously.

There are thought to be roughly seven main symptoms of mania which include:

  1. Feeling excessively happy or ‘high’ for long periods of time
  2. Having a decreased need for sleep or rest
  3. Talking exceptionally quickly, with racing thoughts
  4. Feeling restless or impulsive
  5. Becoming easily distracted with poor concentration
  6. Having overconfidence in your abilities
  7. Engaging in risky behavior and having a tendency to have spontaneous sex, shopping sprees, or gambling, for example.

Depression, like mania, can cause other symptoms as well, but here are the most apparent vital signs that go with depression, if you are suffering from bipolar:

  1. Feeling sad or down for long periods of time
  2. Having a noticeable loss of appetite
  3. Withdrawing from people – mainly friends and family
  4. Losing interest in activities or hobbies you once enjoyed
  5. Feeling severe tiredness or lack of energy
  6. Having problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making
  7. Having suicidal thoughts, or occupation with death.

Different Types of Bipolar
There are thought to be four types of bipolar, but only two are most often diagnosed; bipolar I and bipolar II.

To be diagnosed with bipolar I, manic phases are apparent, and if left untreated, the individual can become seriously ill.  They tend to have depression as well as manic episodes.

Whereas bipolar II is thought to be more common – it also involves depression, but its manic episodes are far less severe. They are called hypomania, which, if left untreated, can become severe.

There are also less-common types of bipolar, which include cyclothymic disorder.  This involves changes in mood and shifts similar to bipolar I and II, but these shifts are often less dramatic in nature.

A person with cyclothymic disorder can often function generally without medication, although it may be hard. Over time, a person’s changes in mood may develop into a diagnosis of bipolar I or II.

How to heal from bipolar
Well, you have to accept, bipolar will never completely go away, but it can be managed with the correct medication and support from professionals as well as friends and family.

Although the bipolar disorder has no cure, people with this condition can experience long periods of time during which they are free of the symptoms.

With on-going treatment and self-management, sufferers of bipolar can sustain a stable mood for extended periods of time.

And during these intervals of recovery, they may experience few or no symptoms.

The types of treatments available depending on the severity of each individual case of bipolar.

Common medications include; mood stabilizers such as lithium, antipsychotics such as quetiapine, and antidepressants.

It is also thought that talking therapy, alongside medication, is really fruitful for many bipolar sufferers.

Types of talking therapy include; psychoeducation, cognitive behavioral therapy, functional remediation, and integrated care management.

It is thoroughly recommended that individuals try out a variety of treatment options to discover which one works best for them as no one size fits all.

What is clear, though, is that consistency is paramount once a suitable treatment is found.  Sticking to the recommended program is essential as the role of self-management is highlighted.

Individuals can heal from bipolar if they take the advice and support of professionals and ‘stick to the program’ to reduce the frequency and severity of mood episodes.

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