A patient’s guide to bipolar disorder
know the basics on causes, symptoms and complications.
Bipolar disorder (manic depression) is a mental illness that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
When someone becomes depressed, he or she feels sad or hopeless and lose interest in most activities. And when one’s mood shifts to mania or hypomania he or she feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings affect sleep, energy, activity judgement, behavior and the ability to think clearly.
There are three types of bipolar disorder. All three types involve clear changes in mood, energy and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, irritable, or energized behavior (manic episodes) to very “down,” sad, indifferent or hopeless periods(depressive episodes).
They include :
- bipolar I disorder – a person affected by bipolar I disorder has had at least one manic episode in his or her life. A manic episode is a period of abnormally elevated or irritable mood and high energy, accompanied by abnormal behavior that disrupts life. Most people with this condition also suffer from episodes of depression.
- bipolar II disorder – this is similar to bipolar I disorder with moods cycling between high and low over time. However, in this type of disorder, the “up” moods never reach full-blown mania. A person affected by bipolar II disorder has had at least one hypomanic episode in his or her life. Most people with this condition suffer more often from episodes of depression.
- cyclothymic disorder – this is relatively mild mood disorder. In cyclothymic disorder, moods swing between short periods of mild depression and hypomania, an elevated mood. The mood swings in cyclothymia are not as extreme as those in people with bipolar disorders.
Causes of bipolar disorder
The exact cause is not known, but several factors may be involved such as biological differences and genetics.
Factors that may increase the risk of developing bipolar disorder include:
- having a parent or sibling with bipolar disorder
- death of a loved one
- drug or alcohol abuse
Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder
People may experience:
- mood : mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, anger, anxiety, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest
- behavioral : irritability, risk-taking behaviors, crying, excess desire for sex, restlessness
- cognitive : lack of concentration, racing thoughts, false belief, slowness in activity
- psychological : depression, paranoia
- weight : weight gain or weight loss
- sleep : excess sleepiness or difficulty falling asleep
Left untreated, bipolar disorder can result in serious problems such as ;
- financial problems
- problems related to drug and alcohol use
- poor work or school performance
- damaged relationships
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