Friday, March 4, 2011

What is Bipolar?

For those that don't know:

Bipolar Disorder. Manic-Depressive. What exactly is it?
Simply put, it is a mood disorder that characteristically involves cycles of deep depression and extreme elation (manic or hypomanic). It is a mental illness that affects thoughts, feelings, perceptions and behavior ... even how a person feels physically. It's probably caused by electrical and chemical elements in the brain not functioning properly. There is overwhelming evidence that bipolar disorder can be inherited and that there is a genetic vulnerability to developing the illness. Stressful life events are thought to be the main element in the development of bipolar disorder. And once the disorder is triggered and progresses, psychological and/or biological processes take over and keep the illness active. But, with proper medication and therapy a person with Bipolar Disorder can still live a relatively normal life.

Symptoms for Bipolar Depression may include:
(According to WebMD)
  • Sadness, anxiety, irritability
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of guilt, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Loss of interest or enjoyment from things that were once pleasurable
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Increased need for sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Change in appetite causing weight loss or gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Attempting suicide
Symptoms for a Bipolar Manic Episode may include:
(According to WebMD)
  • Excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement
  • Sudden changes from being joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile
  • Restlessness, increased energy, and less need for sleep
  • Rapid talk, talkativeness
  • Distractibility
  • Racing thoughts
  • High sex drive
  • Tendency to make grand and unattainable plans
  • Tendency to show poor judgment, such as deciding to quit a job
  • Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity -- unrealistic beliefs in one's ability, intelligence, and powers; may be delusional
  • Increased reckless behaviors (such as lavish spending sprees, impulsive sexual indiscretions, abuse of alcohol or drugs, or ill-advised business decisions)

    Everybody experiences periods of elation and despair in their life. But the difference is that for those who have Bipolar Disorder, the symptoms are severe and the ramifications can be widespread and potentially damaging to the individual, their relationships,  job or school performance etc.

    The reasons why I am writing this blog:
    To help average people (and those who know a person with the Disorder) to hopefully better understand what we go through.
    And to try and connect with others who may be going through the same struggles, because so often when dealing with an illness like this, we can feel all alone.

    So, here's to living and learning as we go along...

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