Manic-depressive condition, also known as bipolar disorder, can cause everything from mood swings to suicide attempts. The latest estimates show that over 2 million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder which usually sees its onset during late adolescence or early adulthood. In some cases the disease can begin early in childhood or very late in life but these cases are more rare.
Cases of bipolar disorder often go undiagnosed since the illness can take on traits of other illnesses. Some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder are extreme irritability, high energy level, unrealistic viewpoints, spending sprees, increased sexual drive and a strong denial that anything is wrong. And any one of these symptoms alone does not mean the person has bipolar disorder. Usually, to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder the person must exhibit several traits in the same day, which last most of the day, for several days in a row.
Since bipolar disorder cannot be detected through a blood sample, an MRI, or even a brain scan, the illness is diagnosed by keeping a record of symptoms, how long they last, and how strong they are. Many people suffer periods of depression, sleepless nights, worry-filled days or even thoughts of ending it all but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are bipolar.
Bipolar disorder affects many people, off and on, throughout their lifetimes. For long periods of time they can seem perfectly normal then suddenly be extremely irritable and irrational. Many family members and friends of those with bipolar often contribute the symptoms to being in a bad mood or having too much stress. Because of this help is often not sought for the bipolar person. Since bipolar disorder is often genetic some friends and family members contribute the strange and erratic behavior of the bipolar person to being “just like his dad” or “just like her mom”.
With proper treatment the bipolar person can lead a fairly normal life. Long-term treatment is the answer. Medication, combined with psychological treatment, makes the disorder much more manageable over a period of time. Treatment should be continuous but even still, the disorder can show itself from time to time.
Since people with the disorder often have abnormal thyroid gland functions, too, it’s important that the physician test the patient for any type of thyroid problem before recommending medication for the bipolar disorder. Medications for the disorder include lithium, depakote, tegretol, lamictal, topamax and other anti-depression drugs. The drugs used for treating the disorder have various side effects so be sure to talk to your physician if you are experiencing nausea, anxiety, hair loss, weight gain or stiff joints.
Besides the medication it’s very important that the patient go for all counseling sessions. Counseling will include cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, interpersonal and social therapy as well as comprehension sessions to understand the disorder.
Alcohol and substance abuse often accompany bipolar disorder. Other illnesses that co-exist often with bipolar disorder are anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression. Since the bipolar personality fails to see the severity of the problem it’s often necessary to hospitalize the person against his or her wishes, particularly if the person is in the midst of a severe episode. The person often blames others and other things for the problems that occur from the bipolar disorder. If you feel like someone you love may be bipolar strongly encourage him to get help. If he doesn’t go willingly consider getting help from your local mental health clinic to explore other options for helping your loved one.
Bipolar disorder, left untreated, can cause unreconcilable damage in relationships, destroyed personal property, injury to another person or to one’s self, and more. Don’t put off treatment any longer – seek help immediately, particularly if the person has openly discussed suicide. There is effective treatment for the disorder and there are support groups which can help the family to deal with the disorder. Go online or check your local phone book for a support group near you.