BIPOLAR DISORDER : ARE YOU A VICTIM??

SECOND IN THE SERIES OF PSYCHIATRIC ILLNESSES, BIPOLAR DISORDER IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY COMMON IN INDIA.
Also known as
bipolar affective disorder, manic-depressive disorder, or manic depression, is a mental illness classified by psychiatrists as a mood disorder. Psychiatric illnesses have a very thin line of recognition given the fact that the rehabilitation facilities and trained psychiatrists in India are very few.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But as pointed out in ‘schizophrenia‘, patients can still lead a normal and productive life.

Danger signs of bipolar disorder

The dramatic mood episodes of bipolar disorder do not follow a set pattern — depression does not always follow mania. A person may experience the same mood state several times — for weeks, months, even years at a time — before suddenly having the opposite mood. Also, the severity of mood phases can differ from person to person.

Symptoms of mania include:

  • racing speech and thoughts
  • increased energy
  • decreased need for sleep
  • elevated mood and exaggerated optimism
  • increased physical and mental activity
  • excessive irritability, aggressive behavior, and impatience
  • poor judgment
  • reckless behavior, like excessive spending, making rash decisions, and erratic driving
  • difficulty concentrating
  • inflated sense of self-importance

Symptoms of depression include:

  • loss of interest in usual activities
  • prolonged sadness or irritable mood
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • sleeping too much or inability to sleep
  • drop in grades and inability to concentrate
  • inability to experience pleasure
  • appetite loss or overeating
  • anger, worry, and anxiety
  • thoughts of death or suicide

Diagnosing bipolar disorder can be difficult. As yet, there aren’t any laboratory tests like a brain scan or blood test that will diagnose it. In teens, bipolar disorder can sometimes be mistaken for illnesses like schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and because brain function is involved, the ways people with bipolar disorder think, act, and feel are all affected. This can make it especially difficult for other people to understand their condition. It can be incredibly frustrating if other people act as though someone with bipolar disorder should just “snap out of it”, as if a person who is sick can become well simply by wanting to. That’s why a complete, detailed history of their their depressive
disorders
is so important To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you must meet the criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). This manual is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.
Diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder are based on the specific type of bipolar disorder.

  • Bipolar I disorder. You’ve had at least one manic or one mixed episode. You may or may not have had a major depressive episode. Because bipolar I varies from person to person, there are more-specific subcategories of diagnosis based on your particular signs and symptoms.
  • Bipolar II disorder. You’ve had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode (but not a fully manic or mixed episode). With bipolar II, symptoms cause distress or difficulty in some area of your life — such as relationships or work. Bipolar II disorder also has subcategories based on your particular signs and symptoms.
  • Cyclothymic disorder. You’ve had numerous hypomanic episodes and periods of depression — but you’ve never had a full manic episode, a major depressive episode or a mixed episode. For a diagnosis of cyclothymic disorder, symptoms last two years or more (one year in children and adolescents). During that time, symptoms never go away for more than two months. Symptoms cause significant distress or difficulty in some area of your life — such as in relationships or at work.

For more on the above points, you can visit (source:) “Emotional Health

Treatments and drugs

Medications for bipolar disorder include those that prevent the extreme highs and lows that can occur with bipolar disorder (mood stabilizers) and medications that help with depression or anxiety.

  • Lithium. Lithium (Lithobid, others) is effective at stabilizing mood and preventing the extreme highs and lows of certain categories of bipolar disorder and has been used for many years.
  • The only antipsychotic that’s specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating bipolar disorder is quetiapine.
  • Anticonvulsants. These mood-stabilizing medications include valproic acid (Depakene, Stavzor), divalproex (Depakote) and lamotrigine (Lamictal). The medication asenapine (Saphris) may be helpful in treating mixed episodes.
  • Symbyax. This medication combines the antidepressant fluoxetine and the antipsychotic olanzapine. It works as an anti-depressant and a mood stabilizer.
  • Benzodiazepines. These anti-anxiety medications may help with anxiety and improve sleep. Examples include clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan)

Psychotherapy
Psychotherapy is another vital part of bipolar disorder treatment. Several types of therapy may be helpful. These include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Psychoeducation. Counseling to help you learn about bipolar disorder (psychoeducation) can help you and your loved ones understand bipolar disorder.
  • Family therapy.
  • Group therapy

©The Idea Bucket 2013. Submitted by Pallavi. For more articles by her, you can check out THE IDEA BUCKET e-book, Vol-1 (coming soon.)

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