Have you ever known someone who goes through intense periods of happiness to depression within seconds? Or maybe your loved one also experiences times where they can forget something that happened only a few days ago but then will instantly remember it a week or so later? Maybe someone you know is highly intelligent and speaks extremely fast but gets easily side tracked. Did you ever wonder what can cause this to happen? I have a friend who is exactly like I have explained and more. One of the diagnosis’s for these happenings is called Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder is described as a sustained experience of unusually intense periods of mania (where the person often describes themselves as feeling high or superior), hypomania (where the person is persistent and pervasive or in an irritable mood), or mixed states (in this case where symptoms previously stated occur simultaneously), and alternating with periods of clinical depression (a state in which one suffers from intense sadness that it has advanced to the point of being disruptive to an individual’s social functioning and daily living) or euthymic moods (one in which the person is not depressed and seems to be extremely happy). These mood problems vary in severity and can cause a higher than average risk of suicide. Those with bipolar are three times more likely to commit suicide than those who are suffering from any type of major depression.
Everyone has occasional highs and lows in their moods, but those with bipolar disorder have extreme mood swings and suffer from them in an extreme and intense fashion. Those with bipolar can go from being very sad and feeling worthless to feeling as if they are on the top of the world and are very hyperactive and creative. When a person is suffering from this disorder it can cause a disruption in your family life, your financial standings, possible loss of your job, as well as marital problems. Extreme mania has been seen to lead to aggressive behavior and homicidal acts. Many people with bipolar disorder may turn to drugs and alcohol to try to treat their emotional disorder themselves which normally results in dependencies on the drugs and alcohol.
The late teenage years is when most people start showing signs of the bipolar disorder and many times it is normally dismissed as normal teenage behavior or the possibility of growing pains. In a lot of cases, it is not properly diagnosed until the person is anywhere from twenty to fifty years of age. Over two million people in the United States have been diagnosed with suffering from this disorder.
So what are the symptoms of this disorder? Well, there are many, but not all symptoms are experienced by the suffering individual. The symptoms that I have discovered, my friend only suffers from about half.
A sufferer may feel like they are indestructible and full of energy and ready for anything that is thrown at them, however at other times that same person will feel irritable and ready to argue with anyone who tries to get in their way. One may constantly make unrealistic plans, spend money that they don’t have, show a lot of reckless behavior, and sleep and eat less than is needed. Someone with bipolar can stay up all night, but find out that staying up all night didn’t help accomplish what needed to be accomplished. He or she is easily distracted causing them not to accomplish what was needed. You may notice this person to talk extremely quickly and jump from subject to subject. Clothing choices may also change and you may see them start wearing brighter colors.
Many bipolar sufferers deny that there is anything wrong and refuse to seek medical attention. Most people tend to have crying spells and not care enough to maintain their appearance or even to get out of bed in the morning. Some may sleep too much while others may suffer from insomnia. Some may not eat and some may over eat. Many will withdraw from friends and family and sometimes find that hobbies that they used to have suddenly bring no interest to them. Some people with bipolar disorder tend to cycle between the two extremes several times within the same day. Some people tend to have psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations and even thoughts of death and suicide.
If someone with bipolar is taking antidepressants, one with bipolar may loose response to that antidepressant. At some points three or more different antidepressants have been tried with no success of none of them working.
Now that we know the symptoms, what exactly causes one to feel these plethoras of emotions and thoughts?
Scientists have actually not been able to discover the exact cause; however they have been able to come up with a few ideas.
Bipolar disorder may result in a chemical imbalance with in the brain and or there is a premature death of brain cells that deal with mood and emotion where in this case the brain looses control of mood. If a family member had bipolar, you may be at risk, as well as high levels of stress tend to trigger it as well. More than two thirds of people with bipolar disorder have at least one close relative with the disorder. Certain drugs such as cocaine can cause it, as well as any type of viral infections, head trauma, diabetes, AIDS, epilepsy, steroids, and even birth control pills. Never EVER think that any type of mental illness has anything to do with someone’s intelligence or personality. Mental illnesses have NOTHING to do with how smart someone is or their personality. Most experts agree that a genetic susceptibility combined with other risk factors leads to mental disorders. Some people think that depression results from a personal weakness or character flaw when in reality depression results from changes in the brain chemistry.
When seeking medical attention for this disorder, you need to have support, such as family and friends around you, and you need to be able to be willing to undergo treatments and recognize your disorder. There are no specific tests that can be performed using blood or x rays to diagnose. Normally an exam is done to check for any type of enlarged glands or poor nerve functions. Tests may also include checking how much salt and sugar is in your blood as well as the levels of drugs and or alcohol in the blood. Whatever results these tests give, gives the basis of what the treatment is going to be.
Bipolar disorder needs medical treatment. In some cases medication such as Lithium will be given as a mood stabilizer to control the manic episodes. Other medications such as Zoloft and or Paxil will be used to treat the depression portion of the bipolar. Seroquel, is another medication that can be used to treat both manic and depressive episodes. Another approach can be Psychotherapy which helps provide way for managing stress and coping with one’s uncertainties. And last but not least, Electroconvulsive therapy can be used to affect brain metabolism and blood flow.
I know to those out there that go through bipolar disorder it is something that is scary to actually go and seek treatment. I have been researching bipolar for a while to understand what my friend is going through, he hasn’t gone for any treatment, but is aware of his condition and has found ways that he can harness it and cope with it until he can seek treatment. He is currently on ADHD medication as well as antidepressants which help him focus as well as keeps him going in a positive mood. At times he will enjoy life to the fullest, at other times he could care less if it ended. If you are like my friend, please realize that you may be relying on these medications to keep you from experiencing the disorder but you need to help yourself has well.