Bipolar Disorder

Mental Illnesses

Symptoms and characteristics of the mental illness

People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called "mood episodes." Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person’s usual mood and behavior. An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state.

Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include:

Mood Changes

· A long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood

· Extreme irritability

Behavioral Changes

· Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts

· Being easily distracted

· Increasing activities, such as taking on new projects

· Being overly restless

· Sleeping little or not being tired

· Having an unrealistic belief in one's abilities

· Behaving impulsively and engaging in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors

Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include:

Mood Changes

· An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless

· Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.

Behavioral Changes

· Feeling tired or "slowed down"

· Having problems concentrating, remembering, and making decisions

· Being restless or irritable

· Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits

· Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

Who is affected?

Bipolar disorder often develops in a person's late teens or early adult years and can affect both genders. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life.Bipolar disorder often develops in a person's late teens or early adult years and can affect both genders. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life.

Identify the causes of the mental illness

· Stress – Stressful life events can trigger bipolar disorder in someone with a genetic vulnerability. These events tend to involve drastic or sudden changes—either good or bad—such as getting married, going away to college, losing a loved one, getting fired, or moving.

· Substance Abuse – While substance abuse doesn’t cause bipolar disorder, it can bring on an episode and worsen the course of the disease. Drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines can trigger mania, while alcohol and tranquilizers can trigger depression.

· Medication – Certain medications, most notably antidepressant drugs, can trigger mania. Other drugs that can cause mania include over-the-counter cold medicine, appetite suppressants, caffeine, corticosteroids, and thyroid medication.

· Seasonal Changes – Episodes of mania and depression often follow a seasonal pattern. Manic episodes are more common during the summer, and depressive episodes more common during the fall, winter, and spring.

· Sleep Deprivation – Loss of sleep—even as little as skipping a few hours of rest—can trigger an episode of mania.

Discuss the impact the illness would have on an individual’s lifestyle and family members.

Effects on family:

· Emotional distress such as guilt, grief, and worry

· Disruption in regular routines

· Having to deal with bizarre or reckless behaviour

· Financial stresses as a result of reduced income or spending sprees

· Strained marital or family relationships

· Changes in family roles

· Difficulty in maintaining relationships outside the family

· Health problems as a result of stress

Effects on their lifestyle:

· Job loss

· Economic ruin

· Loss of interpersonal relationships

· STD’s from unprotected, risky sexual escapades

· Other medical conditions

· Substance addiction

Identify the support systems and community programs available for treatment

· Get educated. Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder. The more you know, the better you’ll be at assisting your own recovery.

· Keep stress in check. Avoid high-stress situations, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.

· Seek support. It’s important to have people you can turn to for help and encouragement. Try joining a support group or talking to a trusted friend. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it won’t mean you’re a burden to others. In fact, most friends will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your relationship.

· Make healthy choices. Healthy sleeping, eating, and exercising habits can help stabilize your moods. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is particularly important.

· Monitor your moods. Keep track of your symptoms and watch for signs that your moods are swinging out of control so you can stop the problem before it starts.

5 misunderstandings about Bipolar Disorder - Mental Health Help with Kati Morton