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Bipolar Disorder

By Angela Young

There are several names for bipolar disorder; they include manic depression, manic-depressive disorder and bipolar affective disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is most characterize with extreme swings in mood, from extreme mania to extreme depression. Bipolar disorder is fairly common effecting nearly 5.7 million Americans.

The depression associated with bipolar disorder can be very severe where the person may have thoughts of suicide. Typically, during the depressive phase of the disorder people have thoughts of hopelessness and a disruption in sleep patterns.

The manic side of bipolar disorder causes the person to exhibit extremely euphoric feelings and appear to have a great deal of energy. During a manic period people seem restless, talk very fast, difficulty concentrating and display poor judgment.

Bipolar disorder is treatable. There are several medications on the market that can treat bipolar disorder. Finding the correct medication and the proper dosage requires some trial and error before the disorder is under control.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary in terms of their severity and depending on the person who has the disorder. The symptoms are either that of mania or depression, but in some cases people exhibit symptoms of both mania and depression in the same mood episode. The clinical name for this is a mixed state.

Symptoms of mania include both mood changes and behavioral changes. Mood changes include long periods of time where the person is appears to be in an overly outgoing or happy mood, people in mania may also be easily irritated or agitated. They may seem jumpy or wired. The behavioral changes associated with mania include restlessness, lack of concentration, very little need for sleep, unrealistic beliefs in their abilities, impulsive and high risk behaviors, jumping form one idea to another and increasing goal driven activities.

Symptoms of depressive mood include long periods of feeling empty or worried, disinterest in things that they once enjoyed, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, change in eating habits or sleep patterns, irritability and thoughts of suicide or attempts at suicide.

Bipolar Disorder Causes

Bipolar disorder has roots in the family history of those who suffer from it. Scientists have found genes that seem to suggest whether or not someone is predisposed to developing bipolar disorder.

There are also external factors that can play a role in the development of bipolar disorder. If someone is predisposed to developing bipolar disorder that traumatic life events or significant changes in interpersonal relationships can cause the onset of bipolar disorder or lead to a reoccurrence of the disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

A thorough mental evaluation, which includes a standardized questionnaire is tool most professionals use to diagnose bipolar disorder. However, most physicians will conduct other tests to rule out other possible illnesses such as stroke or brain tumor. There are not an blood tests or brain scans that can determine if someone has bipolar disorder.

Most primary care physicians will refer someone they believe may suffer from bipolar disorder to a mental health professional to conduct a complete evaluation. The mental health professional will conduct an interview, evaluate family history and learn about the symptoms the patient displays.

Diagnoses can be very difficult even with the awareness that has come about in the last decade. Sometimes an accurate bipolar disorder diagnosis can take years despite the symptoms exhibited by those suffering from the disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

There is no cure for bipolar disorder, however the medications available offer way to manage the disorder effectively. Medications help people treat and manage the symptoms of the mood swings, but because bipolar disorder is a lifelong disease it is important that people diagnosed with bipolar disorder stay on their medications permanently. Medications used to control the symptoms of bipolar disorder and treat the disorder include a combination of antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications. Depending on the severity of the bipolar disorder symptoms people may need all or just one type of medication to manage their disorder.

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