The ups and downs of being bipolar
Everyone has feelings of happiness and sadness. However, for someone with bipolar disorder, these feelings take on an extreme form. They have mood swings, ranging from very high (mania) to very low (depression). These ups and downs are often too much for a person to handle and can interfere with daily life. Sometimes, these extreme emotions can even be dangerous. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, but it can be effectively managed.
Causes of bipolar disorder
Currently, the cause of bipolar disorder is not fully known. Scientists believe that family history plays a large role in the development of the condition. Most people diagnosed with bipolar disorder also have a relative with the condition or with some similar form of mood disorder.
Scientists also believe that special chemicals in the brain may be involved in the condition. This chemical imbalance can cause the brain cells to work differently than they should, which may be the cause of the rapid mood swings.
Bipolar disorder often starts in teenagers or young adults, but there have been cases in children and older adults, as well.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder
The most common signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder involve disturbances in emotions or feelings. The following signs may indicate bipolar disorder and should be discussed with a doctor:
- Experiencing extreme or frequent mood swings
- Undergoing periods of time when thoughts are racing through the mind
- Getting less sleep but not feeling sleep deprived
- Having close relatives who have depression or bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder treatment
There are many medications available that will help bipolar disorder patients manage their conditions, allowing them to lead full, happy lives. There are three common types of treatment:
- Medication – Types of bipolar disorder medicines include mood stabilizers, antidepressants (such as Buproprion) and antipsychotics. These medicines can be used alone or with others.
- Therapy – Therapy sessions, either one-on-one with a counselor or in group settings, can help patients learn about themselves and get feedback and support from others.
- Education – Self-care is about taking an active role in the management of bipolar disorder. Patients should learn about the condition, track their moods and learn what triggers these mood swings so they can be avoided.
Childhood bipolar disorder
Evidence shows that bipolar disorder in children may be different and possibly more severe than adult-onset bipolar disorder. It has been described as a continuously or rapidly cycling state of disruptive disorders, including signs of conduct disorder (CD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A child with bipolar disorder may continuously feel irritable, moody or depressed.
Children showing the above symptoms should be evaluated by a doctor right away, especially if bipolar disorder runs in the family. Medications can be prescribed to lessen the symptoms, and an accurate diagnosis is the first step to properly managing the disease.