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Understanding bipolar disorder

Bipolar Disorder-Overview

Also called manic depression, it is a psychiatric disorder characterized by mood swings that range from the highs of mania to the lows of depression. Mood shifts may happen only a couple of times a year, or, in some cases, as often as several times a day. At times, bipolar disorder may cause symptoms of depression and mania at the same time.

Episode duration varies from person to person, but it usually lasts for several weeks. 

Bipolar disorder often develops in a person's late teens or early adult years. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life. Bipolar disorder is hard to spot when it first starts. The symptoms may seem like separate problems, and not be recognized as parts of a larger problem. Some people suffer for years before they are properly diagnosed and treated. It is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person's life.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Although there have been some extensive research in this field, it still remains unknown what the actual cause of this condition is. However, there are several factors that seem to be involved in causing and triggering episodes. These are: hormones (imbalance in the hormone levels may trigger an episode), genetics (this condition is far more often with people that already have someone in the family that suffers from bipolar disorder), imbalance in neurotransmitters (naturally occurring brain chemicals), stress, abuse, or traumatic experiences, etc.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The exact symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person. For some, the depression is what causes the most problems; for other people manic symptoms are the main concern. Symptoms of depression and symptoms of mania or hypomania may also occur together. This is known as a mixed episode.

Manic symptoms of this condition are: agitation, making unwise financial choices, euphoria, extreme optimism, lack of concentration, risky behavior (concerning alcohol, drugs, sex, etc.), decreased need for sleep, inflated self-esteem, etc. The symptoms of depression are: low appetite, hopelessness, anxiety, sadness, fatigue, loss of interest, chronic pain without any cause, irritability, suicidal thoughts, sleep problems, guilt, etc. 

Bipolar Disorder Treatment 

If one has experienced symptoms of manic depression, it is important that they consult a doctor immediately. This type of disorder does not go on its own. It can significantly disrupt a person’s life and the lives of their loved ones. This condition requires life-long treatment. A number of medications are used to treat manic depression.

The doctor might prescribe lithium, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or, Symbyax. The psychiatrist will determine the type of medication to be prescribed based on various factors, such as the severity of the symptoms, the type of manic depression, etc. Beside medication, a person will need psychiatric therapy.

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