Bipolar Disorder, also called manic-depressive illness, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression) that can have a severe impact on an individual’s private and professional life. Although bipolar disorder is treatable, many people don’t recognise the symptoms and don’t get the help they need.
Symptoms of going high or manic phase include increased energy, feeling better than well, racing thoughts, decreased or increased appetite yet not gaining weight, reduced inhibitions, grandiosity, rapid speech leading on eventually to hallucinations and delusions. While it feels good at first it often spirals out of control and people can behave recklessly during a manic episode.
Cycles can mainly feature highs or lows or a mix of both.
In the low phases or depression, common symptoms are feelings of hopelessness, irritability, inability to experience pleasure, loss of energy and fatigue, appetite or weight changes, lack of concentration, sleep problems and suicidal ideation.
It is important to receive a proper diagnose for bipolar although this can be difficult because the symptoms differ in individuals and vary in their pattern, severity and frequency. It can some time from the actual onset of symptoms before the diagnosis is established.
A key reason that the diagnosis should be made properly and urgently, is that correct treatment is not just highly effective, but repeated cycles of highs and lows have been shown by the most recent evidence to lead to an effect on the brain referred to by neuroscientists as ‘kindling’. This means that the more episodes of acute illness you get, the more you are likely to experience in the future.
Another reason for ensuring a proper diagnosis is that often individuals may be recommended other treatments for instance anti-depressants. It is has been shown, however, that antidepressants can make bipolar worse triggering mania or hypomania and causing rapid cycling between mood states.
Receiving the combination of medication and therapy has proven effective in allowing the individual to be stable, feel better and allowing them to continue living their lives.
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