Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder,  also known as manic depression,  is an illness involving one or more episodes of serious mania and depression.  The illness causes a person's mood to swing from excessively "high" or irritable to sad and hopeless with periods of normal mood in between.

Bipolar disorder typically begins in adolescence or early adulthood and continues throughout life.  Individuals may suffer needlessly for years while the disorder goes untreated and can be distressing to the individual,  his or her family,  friends,  employers  and coworkers.  Although there is no known cure,  bipolar disorder is treatable and recovery is possible.  Individuals have successful relationships and meaningful jobs.  The combination of medication and therapy helps the vast majority of people return to productive,  fulfilling lives.

What are some of the symptoms?

Symptoms of Mania

  • Excessive energy,  activity,  restlessness,  racing thoughts,  and rapid talking.
  • Denial of anything being wrong.
  • Extreme high or euphoric feeilngs or extreme irritability.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Unrealistic belief in one's ability and powers,  may experience feelings of exaggerated confidence or unwarranted optimism.
  • Uncharacteristically poor judgment.
  • Sustained period of behavior that is different from usual
  • Abuse of drugs,  alcohol,  or prescription medications.
  • Provacative,  intrusive or aggressive behavior and a person may become enraged or paranoid if grand ideas are stopped or excessive social plans refused.
  • Behaving impulsively and engaging in high-risk behaviors such as spending sprees,  impulsive sex and impulsive business investments or ventures.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Persistent sad,  anxious or empty mood
  • Sleeping too much or too little,  and waking up in the middle of the night or early morning.
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities,  including sex.
  • Irritability or restlessness.
  • Difficulty concentrating,  remembering or making decisions.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Persistent physical symptoms that don't respond to treatment,  such as chronic pain or digestive disorders.
  • Feeling guilty,  hopeless or worthless.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide,  including suicide attempts.

So you have bipolar,  now what?

Treatment of bipolar is critical for recovery.  A combination of medication,  professional help and support from family,  friends and peers help individuals with bipolar disorder stabilize their emotions and behavior.  Support groups and self-help groups are also an invaluable resource for learning coping skills,  feeling acceptance and avoiding social isolation. Friends and family should also seek out support groups for help in learning how to help their loved one and themselves live with this disorder.

Note:  This information is not intended to be used for diagnostic purposes.  Only a mental health professional can diagnose bipolar disorder.  If you believe that you or someone you know may have bipolar,  contact a mental health professional.  If you need help finding a mental health professional,  contact Jamie Brecht at  jbrecht@mhand.org  for help finding a service provider in your area.