Most people think bipolar disorder is just moodiness, others think it has to do with split personalities or that people with bipolar disorders are the psycho women they date or the knife wielding criminals you see in the news.
Bipolar disorder is none of the above. I know many bipolar people and none of them are like the stigma that is attached to this disease.
Bipolar Disorder (often call manic depression. I will never refer to it as this because of my own personal preferences) affect about 6 million people nationwide. It does not discriminate against race, socioeconomic status or ages. It is a disease just like diabetes or heart disease and is something you were born with not something you aquire due to poor judgment etc.
It is called bipolar because of the different poles (high-mania & low-depression) people will go between. These episodes can be extreme or minor based on many different factors, including environmental stress, medications and especially sleep deprivation.
Bipolar Disorder is treatable and many people will live a highly functioning life but there is no cure.
The symptoms for a manic episode are:
- A long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood
- Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling "jumpy" or "wired."
- Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
- Being easily distracted
- Increasing goal-directed activities, such as taking on new projects
- Being restless
- Sleeping little
- Having an unrealistic belief in one's abilities
- Behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable,
high-risk behaviors, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments.
Depressive Episode Symptoms:
- A long period of feeling worried or empty
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.
- Feeling tired or "slowed down"
- Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
- Being restless or irritable
- Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
- Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.
Most people associate hallucinations, delusions and paranoia with schizophrenia only. That is not true. Many people with bipolar disorder have psychotic features or experience psychosis (a break from reality).
Psychosis is typically seen during episodes of mania or severe depression in Bipolar I patients but it can occur with Bipolar II. Psychotic features can manifest in multiple ways.
- Hallucinations: This is seeing, hearing, feeling or even smelling something that is not there.
- Delusions: A false belief about what is taking place. There are multiple types of delusions.
- Delusions of grandeur - the false belief that one is famous or publicly important or is a god
- Delusional jealousy - believing a spouse or partner is unfaithful when it is not true
- Persecutory or paranoid delusions - believing one is being followed, spied upon, secretly listened to, etc.
- Delusions of reference-thinking that random events contain a special meaning for you alone.
- Other "bizarre" delusions - things that are impossible, such as believing one is a werewolf, that one's spouse is an octopus, or that giant worms make subway tunnels
- Catatonia: A psycho motor disturbance--basically an interruption of movement. More common in schizophrenia than Bipolar Disorder.
A mixed episode is when a person exhibits symptoms of both mania and depression. An example of this would be if a person with bipolar had all the manic energy and impulsive behaviors but also had deep dark thoughts of depression. There is a higher risk for suicide with mixed moods.
According to the DSM-IV (Diagnostics and Statistics Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition)
- Symptoms must last at least a week during which time you must meet the DSM criteria for a manic and depressive episode.
- Your symptoms are enough to disrupt your life. Or do you need to be hospitalized because you are experiencing psychotic features?
- Your symptoms are not caused by a drug (legal or otherwise).
Rapid cycling is having 4 or more manic and/or depressive episodes per year. People can also be an ultra rapid cycler and have daily or even hourly episodes.
Getting a Diagnosis
This can and should take multiple appointments to diagnose, for me it took nearly 8 months. It is a complicated disease that can mimic a number of other diseases or afflictions and many medical tests can be done to rule out other possibilities. If your doctor sends you out of the appointment with a diagnosis after the first visit I highly recommend getting a second opinion.
I will write more about Bipolar Disorder in the Bipolar article link and reference new articles, treatments etc. Please stop by there and see if there is any information to help you.
And I am always available to answer any questions via email.