Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder can experience big mood swings. Bipolar disorder can last a lifetime and typically begins during late teen or early adult years. Everyone’s experience with bipolar disorder is different. Doctors will work with patients to determine which treatment option is best.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formally known as manic depressive disorder, affects someone’s mood. Bipolar disorder causes episodes of emotional highs (hypomania or mania) and lows (depression). Shifts from manic highs to lows can occur several times a week or a few times a year. Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition.

Risk Factors

Scientists believe the cause of bipolar disorder is related to genetics, stress and brain chemistry. People with a family history of bipolar disorder have an increased risk for developing the disorder. Risk factors that can trigger mania include:

  • Childbirth
  • Medicines
  • Periods of sleeplessness
  • Recreational drug use
  • High-stress situations

Bipolar disorder symptoms

People with bipolar disorder may experience the following symptoms:

  • Mood swings
  • Sadness
  • Anger and rage
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Restlessness
  • Feeling on top of the world
  • Taking a lot of risks
  • Crying a lot
  • Over interest in sex
  • Acting without thinking
  • Aggressiveness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Feeling superior
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Having a hard time sleeping
  • Sleeping too much

Diagnosing bipolar disorder

Diagnosis depends on episode lengths and characteristics.

Doctors can use a mood disorder questionnaire to help get a more accurate diagnosis. Family members may be consulted to help doctors learn about an individual’s daily experiences.

People who have severe manic or depressive episode may require hospitalization. If you or a loved one has signs of manic episodes, contact your doctor right away.

Treating bipolar disorder

Treating bipolar disorder can help control episodes, prevent self-injury, and increase daily enjoyment.

The best treatments for bipolar disorder are a combination of medications to control symptoms and psychotherapy options like cognitive behavioral therapy.

Treatment options include:

  •  Medications
  • Support programs
  • Psychotherapy
  • Electroconvulsive therapy

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