“Mental health is a sickness just like diabetes and heart problems.”- Betty Jordan
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a mood disorder characterised by severe mood swings, along with shifts in energy levels and ability to function.
There are various types of bipolar disorder, classified by how often one experiences the severe ups and downs typical of this mental illness.
Manic episodes often lead to reckless behaviour, as someone’s ability to make judgements is affected. Excessive spending, reckless driving, abuse of drugs and alcohol, and sexual indiscretions are typical of someone experiencing a manic episode. Other symptoms of this phase include a feeling of euphoria, extreme agitation, increased energy, little need for sleep, rapid talking, racing thoughts and extreme, unrealistic self-confidence.
The symptoms of the depressive phase include a deep sense of sadness, feelings of guilt, worthlessness, despair, loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, and thoughts of death or suicide.
Some people also experience psychotic symptoms during severe episodes of mania and depression. This is when you experience things that aren’t real, e.g. hearing voices that others can’t, or feeling that you have special powers.
As many as one in every 100 people are affected by this mood disorder. Although men and women are equally at risk, men tend to have more manic episodes than women.
There’s no cure for this condition. But when bipolar disorder is well managed – and you take your prescribed medication and go for psychotherapy – you can lead a full and productive life.
If someone is not diagnosed or treated, the condition can become worse over time. As with many other illnesses, people sometimes stop taking their medication when they feel better. Unfortunately, this may trigger another manic or depressive episode.
(Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to provide general background information and not to substitute any medical diagnosis or advice received from a qualified healthcare professional.)
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