Guide to Bipolar Disorder

Those with bipolar disorder – also called manic-depressive illness – experience a range of mental health problems that are characterized by abnormal mood swings. Although everyone experiences ups and downs, the extremes caused by bipolar disorder are extreme and disruptive to themselves and to others.

Increased awareness and better treatments have helped reduce the stigma and fear once associated with mental health disorders in general, and bipolar disorder in particular. Treatment works ­– most people treated for bipolar disease can enjoy a good quality of life and maintain meaningful relationships and careers.

 Types of Bipolar Disorder

 Bipolar disorder can cause a person to experience mood swings, changes in energy levels and activity levels, and difficulty in performing normal daily tasks. This means that mood changes can be extreme, and seen by others as out of line with day-to-day stresses, disappointments, and challenges.

In the “up” cycle of someone suffering from bipolar mood disorder, the person is highly energized and can appear overly confident. They may need less sleep and act in a reckless manner, such as overt gambling or engaging in blatant sexual affairs.

In contrast, the “low” cycles are times of depression, low energy, even despair. People may attempt suicide during depressive episodes.

Substance abuse is a common complication of bipolar disorder, and it makes treating the disease more difficult.

People with untreated bipolar disorder can face problems maintaining personal and professional relationships, including maintaining a marriage or steady employment.

What Does Bipolar Personality Cause?

 Some types of bipolar disorder cause more severe symptoms than others:

 Bipolar Type One Disorder

This type of bipolar disorder causes the “classic” type of manic-depressive episodes we may associate with the disease. People with type one bipolar disease have:

  • Extreme moods and manic episodes that last seven days or more, and that are severe enough to require immediate medical care, including hospitalization.
  • “Down” or depressive episodes that last two weeks or more. The down episodes can cause a person to think they have done something very bad, and even think about suicide.

 Bipolar Type Two Disorder

 People with type two bipolar disease have:

  • Periods of “hypo,” or less than, full-blown manic episodes. Symptoms can include irritability and restlessness. Usually, these hypomanic episodes don’t lead to hospitalization.
  • Periods of depression that can be severe.

Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)

 Cyclothymic disorder can be considered a milder form of bipolar disorder. In cyclothymia, a person experiences mood swings that are greater than what is considered normal, but are not as extreme (and don’t last as long) as those with type one or type two bipolar disorder.

Getting Help for Personality Disorder

People who have a family history of mental health problems may be at a greater risk of developing bipolar disorder. However, siblings with a similar history often do not develop the disorder at all.

Scientists are learning more about the causes of bipolar disorder. Currently, a combination of brain chemistry, genetic makeup, and environmental factors all are thought to play a role.

New medications help control mood swings and keep depression from overtaking patients. Side effects can be an issue for some people, so fine-tuning the combination of medications takes some time, dedication, and expert care.

A combination of drug therapy and psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy, seems to work the best. It is very important that a patient receive the support of family and close friends. For too long, stigmas surrounding mental health issues kept people silent, isolated, and in fear.

Who Can Help with My Personality Disorder?

Getting an accurate diagnosis is critical. Trained psychiatrists can examine a person who is exhibiting mood swings and determine whether bipolar disorder or another physical or mental condition is the cause.

 If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health issues, contact Psy-Visions. Psychiatrist Dr. Mark Stracks provides comprehensive, responsive care tailored to your individual needs.

Call us today at (203) 405-1745 and get the supportive care you need to help you resume control of your life. If you’d like, you can fill out our online form to request a consultation with Dr. Stracks. We look forward to helping you enjoy your life!

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