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Bipolar Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

By September 19, 2018 No Comments

Bipolar Disorder Blog

familyfirst Family Medical Practice — we’re a 2018 Antelope Valley Best winner, and we specialize in helping patients of all ages live healthier.

We go beyond physical health and also provide mental health services, especially for patients who suffer from Bipolar Disorder, formerly known as manic depression.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health illness characterized by cyclical mood swings ranging from mania (‘highs’) to depression (‘lows’). People suffering from Bipolar Disorder experience subtle to dramatic changes in their mood, energy, and mental clarity. The frequency and duration of mood swings varies among individuals. Some patients have short, frequent cycles of ‘high’ and ‘low’ episodes, while others may remain in one state for a prolonged period.

Causes

As with many mental health disorders, researchers are still looking for the main cause or trigger for Bipolar Disorder. No single risk-factor or gene has been linked to developing Bipolar Disorder. Instead, the disorder is likely caused by multiple factors. A major traumatic experience or sudden increase in stress appears to be linked to the onset of symptoms. And genetics is certainly another factor because it is common to find Bipolar Disorder in family members. Brain scans and blood tests cannot currently diagnose Bipolar Disorder, but these tests can help rule-out any other medical conditions that may be contributing to the patient’s symptoms.

Symptoms

During a manic phase, individuals with Bipolar Disorder experience high levels of energy, needing less sleep, increased irritability, impulsivity and impaired judgment. Low-level mania, sometimes referred to as hypomania, is characterized by noticeable changes to the person’s typical mood and behavior for three to four days, but the severity of the symptoms is limited. In its more extreme form, mania can manifest as narcissism, feelings of invisibility, and dangerous risk-taking – often sexually or financially – lasting for weeks. Such erratic behavior results in damaged relationships and detrimental consequences.

During a depressive phase, individuals with Bipolar Disorder experience a lack of energy, disruption to normal sleep patterns, and a feeling of emptiness or loss of joy. Depression episodes can last for weeks and severely impair an individual’s ability to participate in normal activities. Daily decision-making, such as what to eat or what to wear, can feel overwhelming. The individual suffering through a depressive phase may struggle with obsessive thoughts centering around loss, futility, guilt, or failure. Suicidal thoughts are also common.

Treatment

With the recent increase in public awareness of Bipolar Disorder, individuals who previously suffered in silence are finding they are not alone and help is available. Bipolar Disorder patients are treated with a combination of psychotherapy and prescription medication. Together, these two main lines of treatment are effective in stabilizing mood and minimizing the disruptive effects of the disease on the individual’s daily life. Additional preventative measures, such as self-help strategies, support groups, and lifestyle regimens, help improve overall health and quality of life.

Contact familyfirst today if you believe you or a friend or loved one needs help. We’re here to give you all the support and treatment you need to help you live a balanced life again.

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