Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly.

Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year. Why most people will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some may not experience anything.

Although bipolar disorder is a Lifelong condition, you can manage your mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy). Source

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder often have cycles of elevated and depressed mood that fit the description of “manic depression.” When a person’s illness follows this classic pattern, diagnosing bipolar disorder is relatively easy.

But bipolar disorder can be sneaky. Symptoms can defy the expected manic-depressive sequence. Infrequent episodes of mild mania or hypomania can go undetected. Depression can overshadow other aspects of the illness. And substance abuse, if present, can cloud the picture.

Taken together, these factors make bipolar disorder difficult to diagnose when symptoms are not obvious. If you fax about bipolar disorder you may not know:

  • As many as 20% of people complaining of depression to the doctor actually have bipolar disorder.

  • About half of people with bipolar disorder have seen three professionals before being diagnosed correctly.

  • It takes an average of 10 years for people to enter treatment for bipolar disorder after symptoms begin. This is caused in part by the ladies in the diagnosis.

  • Most people with bipolar disorder have additional psychiatric conditions (such as substance abuse or anxiety) that can make overall diagnosis more challenging.

Bipolar Disorder Is Often Mistaken for ‘Just’ Depression

People with bipolar disorder are frequently misdiagnosed as having only depression. In bipolar II disorder, the milder form, manic episodes are mild and can pass by unnoticed. Time spent with depression symptoms, meanwhile, outnumbers time spent with hypomanic symptoms by about 35 to 1 in people with bipolar ll disorder.

Time spent with depression symptoms also usually outweighs time spent with mania symptoms in bipolar I disorder by about 3 to 1, although the more severe mania in bipolar l is easier to identify.

Major depression disorder – – often referred to as unipolar depression – – is different from bipolar disorder ll – – also called bipolar depression – – in that unipolar depression has no intervals of hypomania while bipolar ll does have intervals of hypomania.

Anyone evaluated for depression should also be evaluated for lifetime history of manic or hypomanic episodes.

Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse Can Go Hand in Hand

Substance abuse often complicates the diagnosis of treatment and bipolar disorder. Substance abuse is bipolar disorder’s partner in crime. Some studies show that as many as 60% of people with bipolar disorder also abuse drugs or alcohol. Untreated substance abuse can make it virtually impossible to manage the mood symptoms of bipolar disorder if both disorders are present. I can also be hard to make a confident diagnosis of bipolar disorder when someone is actively abusing substances that cause mood swings.

Substances such as alcohol and cocaine can also cloud the picture in bipolar disorder. For example, people high on cocaine can appear manic when they are actually intoxicated, or have a depression “crash” when the drug wears off. Some people with bipolar disorder use drugs and alcohol as a part of the impulsivity and recklessness of mania. Others may have an independent substance use disorder, which requires its own treatment. Substance abuse may make bipolar episodes of (mania and depression) more frequent or severe, and medicines used to treat bipolar disorders are usually less effective when someone is using alcohol or illicit drugs.

Read more on signs and symptoms here… Source

Bipolar Disorder and Other Illnesses

Some bipolar disorder Symptoms are similar to other illnesses, which make it hard for a Dr. to make a diagnosis. In addition, many people have bipolar disorder along with another illness such as such as anxiety disorder, substance abuse, or an eating disorder. People with bipolar disorder are also at a higher risk for thyroid disease, migraine headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and other physical illnesses.

Psychosis: Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression also has psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the person’s extreme mood. For example:

  • Someone having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode made believe she is famous, has a lot of money, or has special powers.

  • Someone having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode may believe he is ruined and penniless, or that he has committed a crime.

As a result, people with bipolar disorder who also have psychotic symptoms are sometimes misdiagnosed with schizophrenia.

Anxiety and ADHD: Anxiety disorders and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often diagnosed among people with bipolar disorder.

Substance Abuse: People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs, have relationship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. Family, friends and people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of major mental illness such as bipolar disorder.

Risk Factors

Scientists are studying the possible causes of bipolar disorder. Must agree that there is no single cars. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increased risk.

Brain Structure and Function: Some studies show how the brains of people with bipolar disorder may differ from the brains of healthy people or people with other mental disorders. Learning more about these differences, along with new information from genetic studies, helps scientists better understand bipolar disorder and predict which types of treatment will work most effectively.

Genetics: Some research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others. But genes are not the only risk factor for a bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that Identical twins share all the same genes.

Family History: Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are usually more likely to develop the illness, compared with children who do not have a family history of the disorder. However, it is important to note that most people with a family history of bipolar disorder will not develop the disease. Source

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Proper treatment helps most people living with bipolar disorder control their mood swings and other symptoms. Because bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, treatment must be ongoing. If left untreated, the symptoms of bipolar disorder get worse, so diagnosing it and beginning treatment early is important.

Treating bipolar disorder may include medication, psychotherapy, education, self-management strategies and external supports such as family, friends and support groups. There is no wind approach to treating bipolar disorder.


Psychotherapy, support groups and psychoeducation about the illness are essential to treating bipolar disorder:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps change the negative thinking and behavior associated with depression. The goal of this therapy is to recognize negative thoughts and to teach coping strategies.

  • Family focused therapy helps people with bipolar disorder learn about the illness and carry out a treatment plan.

  • Psychotherapy focused on self care and stress regulation, and healthy person improve self-care, recognize patterns of the onset of the symptoms and to manage stress.


With the prescribing doctor, work together to review the options for medication. Different types of bipolar disorder may respond better to a particular type. The side effects can vary between medications and it may take time to discover the best medicine.

Lithium (Lithobid, Eskalith) Is effective at stabilizing mood and preventing the extreme highs and lows of bipolar disorder. Periodic blood tests are required because lithium can cause thyroid and kidney problems. Common side effects include restlessness, dry mouth and digestive issues. Lithium levels should be monitored carefully to ensure the best sausage and watch for toxicity.

Lithium is used for continued treatment of bipolar depression and for preventing relapse. There is evidence that lithium can lower the risk of suicide but the FDA has not granted approval specifically for this purpose.

Anticonvulsants Many medications used to treat seizures are also used as mood stabilizers. They are often recommended for treating bipolar disorder. Common side effects include weight gain, dizziness and drowsiness. But sometimes, certain anticonvulsants cause more serious problems, such as skin rashes, blood disorders or liver problems.

Valproic acid and carbamazepine are used to treat mania. These drugs, also used to treat epilepsy, were found to be as effective as lithium for treating acute mania. They may be better than lithium and treating the more complex bipolar subtypes of rapid cycling and dysphoric mania as well as co-morbid substance abuse.

Lamotrigine is used to delay occurrences of bipolar one disorder. Lamotrigine does not have FDA approval for the treatment of acute episodes of depression or mania. Studies of Lamotrigine for treatment of acute bipolar depression have produced inconsistent results.

Second-Generation Antipsychotics (SGA’s)

SGA’s are commonly used to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder and often paired with other medications, including mood stabilizers. They are generally used for treating manic or mixed episodes.

SGA’s are often prescribed to help control acute episodes of mania or depression. Finding the right medication is not an exact science; it is specific to each person. Currently, only quetiapine and the combination of olanzapine and fluoxetine (Symbax) are approved for treatIng bipolar depression. Regularly check with your doctor and the FDA website, as side effects can change over time.

Standard Antidepressants

Antidepressants present special concerns when used in treating bipolar disorder, as they can trigger mania in some people. A National Institute of Mental Health study showed that taking an antidepressant also to a mood stabilizer is no more effective than using a mood stabilizer alone for bipolar l. This is an essential area to review treatment risks and benefits.

Read on other treatments for Bipolar Disorder and additional information here… Source

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