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Bipolar Disorder


Bipolar Disorder is characterized by two distinct alternating episodes of intense highs (mania) and extreme lows (depression). The length of each of these episodes vary from days to months. Each individual is unique and thus experiences a unique combination of symptoms varying in intensity, frequency, and duration.
 

Symptoms


 

Depressive Episode

People experience depression differently. Each encounters a distinct combination of symptoms at varying severity, frequency, and duration. Jack struggles to pull himself out of bed; oversleeping, not eating, and lacking energy. Conversely, Janet appears normal and happy to her peers, while constantly battling thoughts and feelings of worthlessness, guilt, and sadness. Her depression occurs regularly, every few months; each bout lasting for several weeks. Where Jack’s symptoms are sparked only by traumatic events and can last for years.


 

 

Manic Episode

The Manic episode brings feelings of energy and optimism but also at times irritability. The feeling of invincibility, not thinking before acting and becoming very impulsive are characteristics of the Mania episode.


 

Warning

Individuals experiencing mania are more likely to exhibit reckless behavior including: substance abuse, mismanaging money, inappropriate and unsafe sexual activity, and violence. These behaviors could result in accumulating large amounts of debt, serious injuries, contracting diseases, and even death.

While in a depressive state, individuals may wrestle with suicidal thoughts, and in some cases lacking energy and ambition are the only barriers preventing them from following through. Those thoughts become even more dangerous when they are carried over into a state of mania; where the lack of energy and ambition are no longer barriers to suicide. Please be aware of these possibilities and take precautions for yourself or others who could be at risk.

 

 

Causes


Genetics

Brain Form and Functioning

Triggers

Stress
Substance Abuse
Medication
Seasonal Changes
Sleep Deprivation 

 

Treatments


Medication

  • Lithium
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Benzodiazepines

 

Therapy

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
  • Psychotherapy

 

Self-Help

  • Excercise
  • Healthy Eating
  • Self-Monitoring Stress and Moods
  • Cultivating a Strong Support System

 

Additional Resources

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Mayo Clinic
WebMD