Bipolar disorder, a mood disorder formerly known as manic depression, is a condition that is characterized by erratic swings in person’s mood from one extreme point to another.
Bipolar Disorder Symptoms
Individuals who suffer with bipolar disorder will typically experience episodes of both:
- Depression: wherein they may feel very low in mood and lethargic
- Mania or hypo-mania: wherein you may feel overactive and euphoric
In a low, or depressive period, an individual may suffer from feelings of hopelessness or despair, as well as a sense of lethargy, inappropriate guilt, self-doubt, and difficulty concentrating. Depressive episodes can make it difficult for people to function within their everyday lives, as they may feel the need to withdraw from social contacts and friends, leading to developing anxiety disorders, regular behaviors such as work and school, and may even begin to feel as though life is not worth living.
In a phase of mania, or hypo-mania, an individual suffering from bipolar disorder may find that they are overwhelmed by energy and are unable to sleep. You may find that you speak and think faster than usual, and that your thoughts jump rapidly from one place to another, making it difficult to maintain a consistent conversation or concentrate on what you are doing. You may experience delusions that lead you to believe you have abilities that you do not, and could find that your judgement is impaired, causing you to make dangerous decisions and inappropriate choices. Sometimes, individuals who are going through a high phase discover that they regularly get into difficult situations that they may otherwise avoid, such as spending money they do not have, leaving their job, giving away possessions or acting irrationally.
Living with Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.6% of the US population over the age of eighteen in any given year, with the median age group falling at around 25 years. Usually, the depressive phase starts initially, with a manic episode appearing somewhere between six and ten years later. The pattern of mood swings that individuals will experience when suffering with bipolar disorder varies widely. Some people will experience a mood swing every few days, whereas others have long periods of time wherein they do not experience any problems whatsoever, making it possible for them to hold down demanding careers. However, it is also important to recognize that bipolar disorder, like many personality disorders, can be highly disabling, and make it difficult for individuals to cope with daily life or manage a regular job.
Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder
There are various options available when it comes to treating bipolar disorder that can help to make a significant difference within people’s lives. These treatments aim to help reduce the symptoms of an episode and control the effects so that the person in question may live as normally as possible with their condition. Some of the following treatment methods may be used:
- Medication to help with episodes of major depression, mania, and hypo-mania. These medicines are used to stabilize a patient’s mood, and are often taken every day, on a reasonably long-term basis.
- Psychological treatment such as talking therapies and counselling which can help individuals to deal with periods of depression and can provide advice on how to cope with difficult phases in life.
- Improved lifestyle choices. Sometimes, participating in regularly planned activities that you enjoy, or taking part in consistent exercise can help to give you a sense of achievement which lifts your mood. Furthermore, activity helps to improve a person’s diet and assist them in getting healthier amounts of sleep.
Most health professionals suggest that a combination of various different treatments is usually the most effective course of action when it comes to managing bipolar disorder. Often, it can be helpful for individuals to learn about the practical aspects of living with and managing their long-term condition as best as possible, and many charities exist which offer support groups dedicated to this purpose. As with many forms of depression, general anxiety, and mood disorders, it is important that an individual has the right network of support behind them throughout the course of their treatment, as mental health issues can rarely be overcome alone. Help and advice is available for people who suffer from mood disorders, and if you believe that you would benefit from further information and assistance, Creative Care is here for you.