Bipolar DisorderMassapequa, NY
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by radical changes in a person's energy, mood, and ability to carry out daily tasks. Extreme mood episodes, which last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, are common for people with bipolar disorder. Mental health professionals classify the mood episodes as manic (an excessively cheerful or irritable mood) or depressive. People with bipolar disorder do often have periods of stable moods. Patients can have full and productive lives if they get proper treatment.
Understanding bipolar disorder
People who do not have bipolar disorder can have mood swings too. However, these usually only last a few hours, not days. People without bipolar disorder do not normally experience dramatic alterations in their everyday activities and social interactions. The disorder often affects a patient's relationships and ability to function normally at work or school.
Many of those with bipolar disorder have a family member who either suffers from the condition or depression. The effects of stress, sleep disturbance, and drugs and alcohol can contribute to mood episodes in patients already susceptible to mood swings.
Even though the exact origins of bipolar disorder in the brain are still unknown, scientists believe that chemical imbalances are what create abnormal brain activity. In most cases, the condition begins in people around the age of 25. Anxiety, drug abuse, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are common co-occurring conditions for people with bipolar I disorder.
Types and symptoms of bipolar I disorder
Bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder are all subcategories of bipolar disorder. A patient is diagnosed with bipolar I disorder when a manic episode occurs. Patients experiencing a manic episode may feel remarkable energy bursts and euphoric or severe irritable moods. Depressive or hypomanic episodes are common in those with bipolar I disorder, as are periods of neutral mood.
Patients with bipolar II often experience major depressive episodes, hypomania incidents, mild forms of mania, and fluctuating periods of regular mood. Cyclothymia is the less severe form of bipolar disease. Adult patients may have mild hypomanic and depressive episodes on and off for about two years or at least one year for younger patients.
A manic episode lasts at least a week and is characterized by a person being excessively euphoric or irritated, having more energy than normal, and exhibiting at least three of the following behavioral changes:
- Staying awake and feeling animated despite barely sleeping
- Faster speech
- Increase in irresponsible conduct (e.g., reckless driving)
- Uncontrollable thoughts or constantly switching subjects while talking
Friends and relatives should be able to tell that something is different about the way that the individual is acting. Symptoms must be severe enough to interfere with one's ability to carry out work, family, or social obligations. People dealing with the signs and symptoms of a manic episode may even need to be hospitalized to prevent self-harm. Psychotic traits, which include disordered thinking, erroneous ideas, and hallucinations, may be present in certain patients undergoing manic episodes.
A hypomanic episode includes mild manic symptoms and is present for only four consecutive days instead of a week. Since hypomanic symptoms are less severe than manic symptoms, they do not create as many issues in everyday life.
Patients experiencing a major depressive episode may experience all or some of the following symptoms: a deep sense of melancholy or hopelessness, lack of enthusiasm for once-enjoyable activities, a sense of worthlessness or shame, fatigue, less or more sleep, low or high appetite, trouble concentrating, restlessness, and suicide ideation.
Patients should seek emergency medical attention if they are concerned about self-harm or considering suicide. Hospitalization is often required in certain cases. That said, outpatient therapy for bipolar disorder has a high success rate.
Visiting a psychiatrist
The impact of mood fluctuations on one's life is often difficult to determine. The euphoric sensations and resulting high productivity are pleasurable for some people with manic episodes. However, the aftermath is often a psychological meltdown, with possible financial, legal, or interpersonal ramifications. The symptoms of bipolar disorder will rarely disappear without intervention; a psychiatrist or a mental health professional can help patients manage the condition.
Diagnosis generally involves a physical exam and a psychiatric evaluation. The doctor may recommend blood testing and neuroimaging to rule out other medical issues. A proper diagnosis can be challenging because bipolar disorder symptoms are often similar to those of other illnesses.
Symptoms of bipolar illness in children and adolescents may be challenging to discern from normal mood and behavioral changes. In a manic episode, children and teenagers may be angry and short-tempered, have difficulty sleeping and concentrating, and engage in dangerous activities. There may be changes in eating patterns and a lack of energy and interest in things that are normally pleasurable. They may also have thoughts of suicide or death. If a child's mood swings are more extreme or different from what they are used to, make an appointment with a psychiatrist.
Bipolar disorder treatment
Treatments often improve the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Prescription drugs can form the basis of bipolar disorder treatment, but psychotherapy can help patients better understand the condition and use their meds according to instructions. Sticking with the treatment plan may help avoid recurring mood episodes.
Mental health professionals often prescribe medications called "mood stabilizers," such as lithium. The idea is that these drugs may restore a healthy balance to the brain's signaling pathways. Continuous preventative therapy for bipolar disorder is necessary due to the chronic nature of the condition and the likelihood of recurrence of manic episodes. Bipolar disorder treatment generally takes a personalized form, and patients may need to take different drugs to discover the most effective one.
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