Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is not what you see in movies and on television. It is a serious mental disorder with unusual and intense shifts in energy, concentration, and functioning. Even with growing research on the subject, it is still difficult to diagnose as the symptoms can vary from person to person. Bipolar disorder also commonly leads to co-occurring disorders like addiction and anxiety.
When bipolar disorder has not been diagnosed or treated, one may self-medicate with drugs or alcohol to deal with their moods and episodes. This often leads to dependence, further skewing the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Whether you or someone you know is showing signs of bipolar disorder or has been recently diagnosed, it is essential to understand what it is, how it presents, and how it is treated to be supportive for someone else or prepare yourself.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness seen through unusual mood changes. Someone with bipolar disorder can go from excited and happy to sad and immobile. They can carry out balanced moods in between such episodes. When someone is having an “up” episode, it is called mania. It can be seen through fast-talking, high energy, lack of focus, or overspending. Then depression can set it, and the same person may have trouble getting out of bed, eating, working, or functioning.
Although bipolar disorder can be linked to genetics, it can also be caused by abnormal brain function. The illness is not curable but is treatable. It is most often seen and diagnosed throughout the late teens or twenties. When undiagnosed and untreated, bipolar disorder can lead to suffering relationships, poverty due to an inability to hold down a job, and even suicide in severe cases.
Even though most young adults and those from all walks of life experience ups and downs over the years, bipolar disorder goes beyond that. It isn’t just having a bad day or a rough week. It is intense and impacts not just the sufferer but also those around them.
What Are the Signs of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder has both known and unknown causes. It is linked to family history, trauma, and drug or alcohol abuse. Those who know they are at a greater risk for developing bipolar disorder should ensure they see a doctor regularly to assess any symptoms and offer a diagnosis if needed. Bipolar disorder is not something that can realistically be left untreated because it so often affects every aspect of one’s life. Everything from sleep to relationships, work, and completing small tasks are impacted by bipolar disorder.
As stated earlier, bipolar disorder contains both manic and depressive episodes. During these episodes is when someone will notice changes in their personality and behavior. For the person suffering, it may not be apparent to them but will be rather obvious to those they live with, work with, or spend a decent amount of time with. These episodes can become so serve that they can lead to psychosis, hallucinations, and paranoia. During these times, someone in treatment may stop taking their medication due to a belief that they don’t need it. This can become dangerous.
When someone with bipolar disorder has a manic episode, the common signs are:
Less need for sleep
High levels of energy
Poor judgment and risky behavior
Lack of awareness of danger
Then, during a depressive episode, bipolar disorder can be seen through:
Fear and anxiety
Excessive sleep or insomnia
Lack of appetite
Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
Thoughts of death
All of these signs of bipolar disorder should be taken seriously. Although they can present differently in everyone, any sudden or unexplained change in behavior should be a cause for concern.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
The best way to treat bipolar disorder is to get diagnosed by a mental health professional as soon as possible. Once signs are shown, it is important to seek help. While bipolar disorder is not curable, it is treatable with both therapy and medication. When following treatment and professional guidance, many people live full and successful lives.
There are several medications used to treat bipolar disorder, and those depend on the severity, the stage of the disorder, and the risks and advantages one discusses with their physician. Once a medical and psychological treatment plan is formed, it is of the utmost importance to continue with it. Stopping medications abruptly and without a professional’s monitoring can trigger severe symptoms.
As for therapy, it will not necessarily prevent a manic or depressive episode, but it can help with acceptance, coping, and staying on track. Working with a professional can help you understand what may be triggering your episodes. You can learn how to modify your behavior and lifestyle to support your treatment plan. Eating well, getting enough exercise and sleep, as well as not drinking alcohol, and avoiding too much caffeine can help you maintain a healthy balance.
Many treatment facilities will also offer additional support with education, housing, and employment. You can also incorporate your support system into your plan if you choose. Having positive reinforcement from friends and family as you work to live with bipolar disorder is a great help.
Bipolar disorder can be a scary diagnosis. The symptoms can cause fear and worry for you and your family. Bipolar disorder can impact every part of your life, but it doesn’t have to be in control. With the proper plan and treatment, you can live your life to the fullest. Getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder is not the end of your life but the beginning of living your life with the care you need to feel balanced and healthy. If you or a loved one is struggling with signs of bipolar disorder, reach out to an accredited healthcare professional today. They can help you come to terms with your new reality and develop a care plan that works for you and your life. Here at California Care Detox & Treatment, we offer therapy, medication, and support through every step of your recovery so you can enjoy your life. Call us at (949) 281-0632 to begin your journey to mental wellness.