What is Bipolar Disorder?
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, more than 10 million people in America have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that is sometimes referred to as manic-depressive illness, or simply manic depression. Individuals with this disorder, experience episodes of excessively elevated energy, emotions, and cognition which is known as manic behavior. They also experience opposite episodes of depression. People can experience either a manic episode or depressive episode for hours, days, or even weeks depending on the severity. Bipolar disorder is often linked to clinical depression and anxiety disorders, many bipolar individuals are treated for all three disorders. Alcohol and other drugs often make bipolar symptoms worse and can even cause bipolar disease in someone with no prior mental health issues. Those diagnosed with bipolar disorders by doctors are usually placed into one of following severity groups.
Typically have difficulty in school, keeping jobs, or staying in relationships because of their wild mood swings between depression and mania. Manic episodes lasting at least seven days or are so severe they need immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes usually last about two weeks. They can also have episodes of mixed features where they experience manic and depressive symptoms at the same time. They have had at least one manic episode or mixed episode and most have had at least one depressive episode.
Typically can maintain relationships and keep a job but they can suffer with their depression sometimes. Typically have a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes which are less severe than full-blown manic episodes. They have experienced one or more depressive episodes with at least one hypomanic episode.
Is the mildest form of bipolar disorder. The disorder may still cause some disruptions in their life but they do not feel such severe highs and lows. They experience multiple periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms lasting at least two years (one year for children and adolescents). The symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a manic or depressive episode.
Symptoms of Bipolar
While it is normal for people to experience mood changes throughout the day, those with bipolar disease have extreme mood cycles with no reason for the changes to their energy, sleep patterns, and activity levels. Sometimes they may have a mixed feature episode which has symptoms of both mania and depression. They may also experience hypomania instead of a full manic episode; hypomania is a less severe form of mania that usually lasts at least four days. Without treatment, this disorder tends to become more severe. Those with bipolar disorder are at a higher risk for suicide, early death due to dangerous behavior or inability to care for oneself, committing crimes, thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, substance abuse, and acts of violence. Bipolar disease tends to run in the family but anyone can get it.