Bipolar disorder is one of the popular conditions affecting many people of all races although its precise characteristics and attributes are found in patients of other ailments thus making it sort of rare.
Everyone has some high and low moods from time to time yet the peaks and valleys of bipolar are often quite severe.
The disorder is considered a mental illness marked by spontaneous mood swings that can last for minutes, hours, days or even months and can become mixed such that the patient feels both elated and depressed at the same moment.
What are the causes and signs?
There are about four diagnosed types of bipolar although bipolar I and II are the most profound.
In bipolar I, patients feel extreme phases of elation (manic) and this can quickly escalate to dangerous levels that leave them in the emergency room or worse.
In bipolar II, the symptoms (manic characteristics) are less profound and can hardly be felt by the victim.
It is the friends who often seek help for people showing these signs.
The national-institute-of-mental-health lists seven main symptoms of bipolar elation (happiness) as follows;
1. A feeling of extreme happiness (elation) for long hours
2. Feeling twitched or jumpy ( easily agitated)
3. Talking very fast with racing thoughts
4. Impulsivity and state of restlessness
5. Judgment impairment
6. Unreasonable/unrealistic overconfidence (usually in one’s own powers and ability)
7. Risky impulsive behavior such as impulsive sex, expensive shopping sprees and gambling life savings
On the converse side, bipolar depression depicts the following characteristics;
1. A feeling of sadness and hopelessness for long hours
2. Withdrawal (from family, friends, events and activities that were once hobbies)
3. Significant loss (sometimes increase) in appetite
4. Lack of energy (severe fatigue)
5. Slowed speech
6. Problems with concentration, decision making and memory
7. Preoccupation with death, thoughts or attempts of suicide
Diagnosis and treatment
It is quite difficult to diagnose people suspected to be bipolar unless they have the extreme symptoms of high elation/depression.
The physician will start by conducting medical examination to rule out disease-caused symptoms (like thyroid disease).
After the exam, interviews with family members may be necessary for mental health evaluation. The patient will be required to keep a daily activity diary used to monitor moods and sleep patterns.
The DSM-5 (diagnostic-and-statistical-manual-of-mental-disorders) may be used to compare symptoms against official criteria. If one is found to have the disorder, the doctor may recommend medication, psychotherapy, substance abuse control and treatment as well as electroconvulsive therapy.
Bipolar disorder has the potential to endanger the patient and other people.
It should therefore be treated immediately after diagnosis.
Treatment is usually more than just medication and requires a long-term approach that includes monitoring moods, choosing healthy lifestyles and seeking self help.
Treatment should only be handled by trained licensed psychotherapists.