Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity level.
Bipolar means two opposite, marked by depression and (hypo)mania. The mania or hypomania is characterized by high energy, decreased need for sleep, increased speech and goal-directed behavior, euphoric feeling that can lead to risky and irrational decisions. The risk of suicide is concerning as individuals may be suicidal even during manic or hypomanic episodes.
The depressive symptoms are marked by low mood and energy, loss of interest, and changes in appetite.
Oftentimes the patients will present with depressive episodes, then a review of symptoms will reveal bipolar disorder. Receiving a correct diagnosis and treatment is a relief for patients who have often gone through years of emotionally exhausting mood cycles that have impaired their relationships and quality of life.
How is bipolar disorder managed?
- Medications: mood stabilizers and antipsychotics.
- Counseling and therapy: including cognitive-behavioral therapy.
- Self-management strategies: education and recognition of early symptoms.
- Complimentary health maintenance: exercise, faith and prayer, meditation, and stress reduction can supplement, but not replace, treatment.
Facts About Bipolar Disorder
The National Institute of Mental Health reports “an estimated 4.4% of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives” with similar prevalence between males and females.3
The average age of onset of bipolar disorder is 252. The symptoms usually first occur in late adolescence and 20s, and uncommon in childhood. It can be an average of 8 years between the first episode and the correct diagnosis. 1 This marks the importance of recognizing signs of bipolar and review of risks.