Bipolar disorder is a mental condition characterized by severe mood shifts between depression and mania. Bipolar disorder is sometimes referred to as manic depression or manic depressive disorder.
The national rate of bipolar disorder in the United States is approximately one percent of the total population. However, bipolar disorder is increasingly thought of as a range of mood shifts that vary in symptoms and severity. Under this new theory the nationwide rate for all types of bipolar disorder could be as high as six percent.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder symptoms vary depending on the individual. In some cases the person goes through periods of intense depression followed by intense mania. This pattern of mania / depression is what most people think of as bipolar disorder symptoms.
Not all types of bipolar disorder follow this pattern, however. Some bipolar sufferers experience mixed states, which combine elements of manic and depressive symptoms. Some cases of bipolar disorder have periods of “normal” behavior between manic and depressive episodes, while symptoms are always observable in other cases.
Manic periods result in grandiose thinking, agitation, irritability, and restlessness amongst other symptoms. An episode of depression can include fatigue, persistent sadness, and suicidal behavior. People with severe bipolar disorder may experience delusions, hallucinations and other psychotic events.
Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis
Bipolar disorder usually begins between the ages of fifteen and thirty, although symptoms sometimes develop at earlier ages. Diagnosis of the disorder can be difficult. Bipolar disorder is often mistaken for major depression, especially if manic symptoms are milder than depressive symptoms. Severe bipolar disorder with psychotic symptoms can be mistaken for schizophrenia.
The earlier bipolar disorder is diagnosed the better. Untreated manic depressive symptoms worsen over time, and the disorder lasts a lifetime. Diagnosis requires physical causes of bipolar symptoms be ruled out, and thorough psychological evaluations. It is vitally important now more than ever for addiction treatment centers to invest in an seo campaign for their drug and alcohol center.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment: Medication and Psychotherapy
Bipolar treatment does not cure manic depressive episodes. Instead, treatment focuses on alleviating symptoms and producing a more stable mood over the long term. Many people with bipolar disorder continue to experience some symptoms even with treatment, but the severity and frequency of symptoms drops.
Bipolar medication must be carefully controlled, and treatment often requires more than one type of medication. Mood stabilizers are the first line of treatment, and are sometimes used in combination with antidepressants. Antidepressants must be used with care; while helpful for treating depressive episodes, depression medication can trigger manic symptoms. Antipsychotics may also be used as bipolar medication.
Psychotherapy is also used as a bipolar disorder treatment. Therapy choices may include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation and family therapy. Some people with bipolar disorder also benefit from electroconvulsive therapy.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be disabling, especially when left untreated. Successful bipolar disorder treatment can provide relief for manic depressive symptoms and greatly improve quality of life. All types of bipolar disorder are treatable.