A look at Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar Disorder

A Mental Health Educational Series 

By Paul Smith, Assistant Vice President for Residential Services

Perimeter Healthcare

Bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression) is a mental health condition that is characterized by extreme mood swings. People with bipolar disorder experience down periods (depressive episodes) that alternate randomly with emotional highs (manic episodes). These mood swings severely affect the individual’s sleep pattern, energy levels, judgment, behavior, decision making, and general ability to function.

2.6% of adults in the United States are affected by bipolar disorder. The severity varies from person to person and the disorder could become more or less severe over time.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder

The symptoms experienced during the manic episodes differ from those experienced during the depressive episodes.

Mania symptoms

  • Excessive hopefulness, excitement or happiness
  • Rapid mood swings from being extremely happy to angry or irritable
  • Talking very fast or reduced attention span
  • Uncharacteristically high sex drive
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Exhibiting impulsive behavior

Depressive symptoms

  • Feelings of extreme sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Unprovoked weeping
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping for excessively long periods
  • Changes in appetite and eating patterns
  • Talking about or attempting suicide
  • Insomnia
  • Apathy towards activities they once enjoyed

What to do if you have bipolar disorder

If you or anyone you know have been experiencing any of the symptoms described above, you should book an appointment with a professional immediately. You would undergo a psychiatric evaluation and the doctor would tell you if you have bipolar disorder or some other mental health disease. The doctor would also let you know the available treatment options and the best treatment plan for your condition.