Bipolar Disorder | BlackDoctor

    Bipolar Disorder

    Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness,
    is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and
    ability to function. Different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes
    through, the symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They can result in damaged
    relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But there is
    good news: bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can
    lead full and productive lives.

    More than 2 million American adults,1 or about
    1 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year,2 have
    bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder typically develops in late adolescence or
    early adulthood. However, some people have their first symptoms during
    childhood, and some develop them late in life. It is often not recognized as an
    illness, and people may suffer for years before it is properly diagnosed and
    treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness
    that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.

    “Manic-depression distorts moods and thoughts, incites dreadful behaviors,
    destroys the basis of rational thought, and too often erodes the desire and will
    to live. It is an illness that is biological in its origins, yet one that feels
    psychological in the experience of it; an illness that is unique in conferring
    advantage and pleasure, yet one that brings in its wake almost unendurable
    suffering and, not infrequently, suicide.”

    “I am fortunate that I have not died from my illness, fortunate in having
    received the best medical care available, and fortunate in having the friends,
    colleagues, and family that I do.”

    Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., An Unquiet Mind, 1995, p.
    6.
    (Reprinted with permission from Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random
    House, Inc.)

    What Are the Symptoms of
    Bipolar Disorder?

    Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly
    “high” and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with
    periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go
    along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called
    episodes of mania and depression.

    Signs and symptoms of mania
    (or a manic episode) include:

    • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
    • Excessively “high,” overly good, euphoric mood
    • Extreme irritability
    • Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
    • Distractibility, can’t concentrate well
    • Little sleep needed
    • Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities and powers
    • Poor judgment
    • Spending sprees
    • A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
    • Increased sexual drive
    • Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
    • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
    • Denial that anything is wrong

    A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three or more of
    the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every day, for 1 week or longer. If
    the mood is irritable, four additional symptoms must be present.

    Signs and symptoms of depression (or a
    depressive episode) include:

    • Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
    • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
    • Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being “slowed down”
    • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
    • Restlessness or irritability
    • Sleeping too much, or can’t sleep
    • Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
    • Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by
      physical illness or injury
    • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

    A depressive episode is diagnosed if five or more of these symptoms last most
    of the day, nearly every day, for a period of 2 weeks or longer.

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