Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness which causes rapid and extreme mood swings. The individual’s mood swings range between emotional highs (manic episodes) and bouts of depression (depressive episodes). Knowing the facts about bipolar disorder can help you identify the signs and take action to improve your quality of life.
Identifying the signs of Manic and Depressive Episodes
An individual may experience the following during a manic episode:
- Feeling like their thoughts are racing
- Indulging in risky behaviour such as high spending or having reckless sex
- Feeling wired or jumpy
- Feeling irritable and agitated
- Having trouble sleeping
- Feeling extremely happy – “up” or “high”
- Speaking very fast about a lot of different things
- Thinking they can do a lot of things at one time
- Being more active than usual
An individual may experience the following during a depressive episode:
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Thoughts about suicide and death
- Overeating or not eating enough
- Feeling incapable of enjoying anything
- Having trouble sleeping
- A lack of concentration
- Feeling tired or “run down”
- Experiencing feelings of being empty and worried
These are the Facts about Bipolar Disorder
It may take doctors years to come to a final diagnosis of bipolar disorder since the symptoms of bipolar disorder may present itself as symptoms of many other mental health illnesses, including schizophrenia or depression. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder may suffer from additional health problems like thyroid disease, anxiety disorder, heart disease, obesity or substance abuse.
Although there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are treatments for controlling the symptoms associated with the disorder. Most people who suffer from bipolar disorder can benefit from treatment that is aimed at changing their mood and addressing behaviour problems. Steady and dependable treatments tend to work best.
The types of treatments:
People react differently to medication and, therefore, it may take some time to find the combination of medication that suits you best. Some medication may cause adverse side effects which you should report to your doctor. It is also advised that you should not stop taking your medication without consulting your doctor.
- Psychotherapy or “talk” therapy:
Therapy can be used to help those who suffer from bipolar disorder to change their behaviour and to manage their everyday lives. Psychotherapeutic sessions may sometimes include family members.
- Other forms of treatment:
Some patients may not benefit from medication and therapy alone. Other forms of treatment may work better for them, for example, electroconvulsive therapy.
What to do when you are diagnosed with bipolar disorder:
- Talk with your doctor about your treatment options
- Learn to recognise your mood patterns
- Ensure that you get enough sleep
- Be patient with yourself and understand that it will take time to improve
- Make sure to stay on your medication
- Ask a trusted friend or family member to assist you in staying on your medication
- Develop a routine for sleeping and eating
Knowing the facts about bipolar disorder will enable you to see the signs early on and to make informed decisions about your treatment. Be sure to read our article on Food and Mental Health.