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Bipolar Disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a chronic condition that affects the brain and causes highs and lows in mood, behavior, energy, and activity.
A person with Bipolar Disorder experiences marked swings in moods – from mania (severe highs) to depression (severe lows), in never-ending cycles. Sometimes these mood shifts are gradual, sometimes dramatic and rapid.
There is no cure for Bipolar Disorder, but individuals can thrive with proper treatment.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
When in a depressed state, an individual with Bipolar Disorder can have any or all the symptoms of depression:
Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
Feelings of hopelessness, or pessimism
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
Decreased energy or fatigue
Feeling restless or having trouble sitting still
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
Appetite and/or weight changes
Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts
Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment
In a manic state, the individual may be hyperactive, talkative, elated and extremely energetic. They may have grandiose unrealistic ideas, exercise poor judgment, and engage in dangerous or embarrassing behavior. If left untreated, mania may worsen to a psychotic state where one is out of touch with reality.
Risks Factors for Bipolar Disorder
Research suggests a combination of factors may cause bipolar disorder; there are psychological, environmental, biological and genetic considerations.
Bipolar Disorder affects men and women equally, and symptoms usually occur in older teens or young adults.
Specific risk factors for Bipolar Disorder include:
A history of bipolar disorder in close relatives
Trauma, stress, or major life changes
Complex physical illnesses and medications
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Even the most severe cases of Bipolar Disorder can be treated, and treatment is most effective when it is started early. Bipolar Disorder can be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.
Every individual is affected by bipolar disorder in their own way, and treatment must be customized to the individual. In other words, there is no single pre-defined bipolar depression treatment that works for everyone.
Psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as “talk therapy” or counseling, is a vital component of treating bipolar disorder. There are a variety of specific psychotherapeutic approaches that can be explored in the treatment of bipolar depression, including:
Medication may help improve the way the brain manages chemicals that control mood or stress. Every individual will react to various medications in their own way, and several different medications may be tried before finding one that improves symptoms with manageable side effects.
Get Help for Bipolar Disorder
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms and wish to seek treatment for bipolar disorder, please contact me for an evaluation.