Do you happen to know someone who is ecstatic one day and then completely gloomy the next? That reason you know may be suffering from bipolar disorder-previously known as manic depression. This kind of disorder causes periods of depression and elevated moods. It is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts of mood, energy, and the inability to carry out day-to-day tasks. According to Research, bipolar disorder affects 2 million adults in America, which is considered to be about 1% of the population. This illness knows no gender and the symptoms usually begin in childhood while some begin later in life.

Restlessness, irritability, spending sprees, talking fast, and racing thoughts are the few symptoms a bipolar individual experiences during the disorder’s manic phase. On the other hand, during its depressive phase, the person will show symptoms like sad mood, loss of interest, fatigue, and change in appetite, occasional suicidal thoughts, and a sense of helplessness. These symptoms must persist for at least one week and two weeks, respectively, to be diagnosable. However, the patterns of change in mood vary from person to person. Some people may feel depressed most of the time and just have a little occurrence of manic episodes in a year while some may experience depression interchanging with multiple episodes of mania within a week or even a single day. The latter case occurs more commonly among men and women and is called the “rapid cycling”. Moreover, it is pretty common among people with bipolar disorder to use alcohol in excess or, worse, drugs. Their very reason is that they are trying to control the symptoms they are experiencing at the moment. However, in the long run, the drug’s and alcohol’s effect on the brain worsens the symptoms.

In some severe cases of bipolar illness, individuals suffer from psychotic states. They may experience delusions like believing or thinking something that is not true or the other way around. Others experience hallucinations; they tend to see, hear, or sense things that are not actually there.

Bipolar disorder in children and young adolescents causes them to experience rapid cycling between modes. They often show many mood swings in a day. Mixed bipolar states are also more common than in adults. However, diagnosing children and young adults has its difficulties. For example, some symptoms of manic phase seem to be the same with those of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant disorder, or conduct disorder. Also, those symptoms of mania or depression are likely to manifest in children and young adolescents who are involved with alcohol and drugs.

Bipolar disorder is a serious case and one MUST get into treatment for two good reasons. First, if left untreated, the illness will complicate and worsen over time. Second, an effective treatment can help those people suffering from this dreadful illness to avoid problems like life-threatening, suicidal thoughts, and/or getting into financial trouble due to actions taken while in a manic state.

Treatment involves medication and therapy which are considered to be critical. Medication has been proven to be highly effective in treating bipolar illness. Many medications are now available which can help stabilize one’s mood. Moreover, long-term treatment with medication has been regarded to be most effective while therapy, on the other hand, helps individuals come to terms with their illness.

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