Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder can also be referred to as manic depression. This disorder is a psychiatric illness that affects the mood and causes major lifestyle and health disruptions. Although it is normal for people to experience mood swings, occasionally high and low feelings, people with bipolar disorder experience mood swings that are extreme and exaggerated. Having feelings that go from feeling great, happy, creative, manic or hyperactive can plummet to feelings of feeling worthless, depressed, hopeless and helpless. The name bipolar was chosen to explain the two extreme differences in a person’s mental status. People who have bipolar disorder have moods that alternate between the two opposite poles, extreme depression and extreme happiness.

It is possible for someone to have what is called a “mixed state” of emotions. This is when depression and mania are both present and can occur together. People who have this disorder and are not undergoing treatment can have major life disruptions. These disruptions can cause marital and relationship problems, problems with family, friends, finances, careers and hobbies.

In bipolar disorder the moods usually come in episodes. Often when a person is not experiencing an episode they are able to function in society normally. This includes working, having normal relationships and family life. When a person suffers from an extreme low they may find themselves suffering from extreme depression or suicidal thoughts. During a manic state a person may experience anger, aggression and homicidal tendencies. It is also common for people to turn to alcohol and drug use in order to self-medicate their emotions. This can turn a bad situation into a worse one. A person may become dependent on drugs or alcohol.

The most common age for bipolar disorder to start is during the late teen years or early 20’s. Often symptoms may be confused with normal teenage behaviors and is overlooked until the person becomes older and the patterns of mood swings become more established. Bipolar disorder affects people of both genders and of all races.

For people experiencing bipolar disorder symptoms it is very important to see a doctor and get a diagnosis. Since symptoms can range drastically in bipolar sufferers they can have effects on those that are living around them. Often family members and friends are the ones that encourage the person to get help. This is least successful during a manic state since the person often feels on top of the world and invincible. It is not until they hit a low state that they may realize that there is possibly something wrong with them.

Once a patient is evaluated and depending on the severity of the condition, the doctor will usually start a treatment plan. For those that are showing suicidal or homicidal tendencies it is often necessary to hospitalize the patient until that state of emotion has passed. Some of the treatments may include medications such as lithium, Tegretol, Depakote, Lamictal, Seroquel, Zyprexa and Risperdal. Not everyone responds to the same medication and therefore it may take a series of treatments to find the perfect fit. Anti-depressants are usually prescribed in conjunction with mood stabilizing medications during times of a depressive episode.

Another form of treatment may include therapy. This is with a therapist or psychiatrist trained in dealing specifically with bipolar patients. During times of mania or severe depression it is important to have the support of someone that understands what you are going through. If one cannot find comfort in family and friends then group therapy sessions can be beneficial.

If you or a loved one is suffering from symptoms of bipolar disorder it is vital to get help. Although this condition is not curable, treatments and therapy can allow a person to live a normal life. Bipolar patients can be freed of the extreme high and low emotions once they’ve gotten medical help for their disorder.


Last updated on Jul 3rd, 2009 and filed under Mental Health. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

1 Response for “Bipolar disorder”

  1. Mark Zamen says:

    A very good essay; accurate, succinct, and well written. The real-world ramifications of bipolar disorder are among the facets of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a bipolar man, and chronicles his struggles as he battles for stability and acceptance (of himself and by others). More information on the book is available at

    Mark Zamen, author

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