Bipolar Disorder

By: Manu Viswanath

What is it?

Bipolar disorders are one of several medical conditions called depressive disorders. Depressive disorders affect the way person's brain functions.

Manic Signs and Symptoms:

  • racing speech and thoughts
  • increased energy
  • decreased need for sleep
  • elevate mood and exaggerate optimism
  • increased physical and mental activity
  • excessive irritability, aggressive behavior, and impatience
  • poor judgement
  • reckless behavior, like excessive spending, making rash decisions, and erratic driving
  • difficulty concentrating
  • inflated sense of self-importance

Depression Signs and Symptoms:

  • loss of interest in usual activities
  • prolonged sad or irritable mood
  • loss of energy or fatigue
  • feeling of guilt or worthlessness
  • sleeping too much or inability to sleep
  • drop in grades and inability to concentrate
  • inability to experience pleasure
  • appetite loss or overeating
  • anger, worry, and anxiety
  • thoughts of death or suicide
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How does it affect someone?

Bipolar disorder affects both men and women. Recent research suggests that kids and teens with bipolar disorder don't always have the same behavioral patterns that adults with bipolar disorder do. For example, kids who have bipolar disorder may experience rapid mood changes and many mood-related symptoms, such as irritability and high levels of anxiety. But these symptoms may not show in adults who have bipolar disorder. Because brain function is involved, the ways people with bipolar disorder think, act, and feel are all affected. This can make it difficult for others to understand their condition. Bipolar disorder isn't a sign of weakness or character flaw; it's a serious medical condition that requires treatment, just like any other condition.

Other names or forms?

There are really no other names of bipolar disorder.

How is it diagnosed?

Most people with bipolar disorder can be helped - but a psychiatrist or psychologist must first diagnose the disorder. Sadly, many people with the condition are never diagnosed or are not diagnosed properly. Without proper diagnosis and treatment the disorder can become worse. Because children and teens with bipolar disorder do not usually show the same patterns of behavior as adults who have the condition, a mental health professional will observe a teen's behavior carefully before making a diagnosis. This includes getting a complete history of the person's past and present experiences. Family members and friends can also provide helpful insights into the person's behavior. The doctor may also want a teen to have a medical scan to rule out other conditions. Diagnosing bipolar disorders can be difficult. As yet, there aren't any laboratory tests like a brain scan or blood test that will diagnose it. That's why a complete, detailed history is so important.

How is it treated?

Although there's no cure for bipolar disorder, treatment can help stabilize moods and help the person manage and control symptoms. The team of medical professionals, together with the teens and family, develop what is called a treatment plan. Teens with bipolar disorder will probably receive medication, such as a mood stabilizer, from a psychiatrist or other medical doctor. A psychologist or other type of counselor will provide counseling or psychotherapy for the teen and his or her family, Doctors will watch the symptoms closely and offer additional treatment advice if necessary.

Interesting note or fact

Teens normal face ups and downs with school family, work, and friends. Dealing with bipolar disorder at the same time is a very difficult challenge. If you've been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, taking your medications as prescribed, reporting any changes in how you feel or function, and participating in therapy will be key to living a successful life. In addition to treatment, making a few lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress, eating well, and getting enough sleep and exercise can help someone who is living with the condition. And many teens ind it helps to join a support network such as a local support group for people with bipolar disorder.