Bipolar disorder (AKA Manic Depression) is a mental condition that affects the functioning of the brain causing extreme mood swings – from very excited (Mania or Hypomania) to very depressed, some experiencing both, others experiencing one or the other. In more severe cases, the person may experience symptoms of psychosis and loss of touch with reality.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder include becoming over-excited and reckless during the Mania stage and experiencing feelings of helplessness, depression and deficiencies in concentration and decision making.
There are two types of Bipolar disorder, Bipolar disorder I produces more severe symptoms, with sufferers being more likely to experience mania for an extended period. These individuals are more likely to have psychotic experiences. Bipolar II is diagnosed when a person experiences the symptoms of a high, but without the psychotic episodes. Impairment is often as severe as in bipolar I.
Mania is a state of extreme energy and elevation of mood. Hypomania being more severe, with additional symptoms of impairment of judgement, insight and even delusions; sometimes becoming so exhausting that the sufferer requires hospitalisation.
The key features of Mania and Hypomania are:
Bipolar Disorder can require long term treatment, however symptoms of Bipolar Disorder react well to treatment, most people recovering well from the disorder. Treatment includes a combination of a mood-stabilizing drug paired with psychotherapy – which is vital in helping sufferers cope with the condition. Because Bipolar disorder involves episodes of depression and mania, treatment usually involved two parts:
Because of the unpredictability of these episodes it is important that patients keep a ‘Daily Mood Graph’ in which the therapist can assess the impact of different treatments on your mood over time. A ‘Wellbeing Plan’ is also important for preventing low level symptoms from becoming full blown episodes. Recognising the patients ‘Relapse Signature’ can also help to indicate when the next possible episode may occur.
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