Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is an incurable mental condition that causes a person to cycle between times of severe depression and emotional mania. The symptoms of bipolar depression include the following:
- Persistent sadness or crying
- Emotional numbness
- Sleep disorders
- Lack of motivation
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
The manic side of bipolar disorder often happens less frequently than the depressive times and includes the following specific symptoms:
- Uncharacteristically reckless or immature behavior
- Irrationally good mood
- Irritability and impatience
- Unrealistic self esteem or ego
- Increased sex drive
- Decreased need for sleep
- Distractibility or inability to concentrate
A person must have experienced symptoms of major depression and at least one manic episode to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Mental health professionals are noticing that a large number of people who have been diagnosed with depression may actually be suffering from a milder form of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar operates with varying levels of severity, and, while in some the symptoms may be obvious, others may experience lower level symptoms that remain hidden to them and those around them. People who just assume that they have moody episodes may have bipolar disorder.
Due to ignorance of the symptoms and a remaining social stigma attached to mental health issues, there are many people who are hiding their symptoms due to a lack of awareness or to avoid treatment. Substance abuse is one common, if unhealthy, method of self-medicating bipolar disorder.
What Is Bipolar Disorder, and How Does It Work?
Bipolar disorder may be caused by chemical imbalances in the part of the brain that manages psychological balance, and it is generally believed to have a genetic component. While there is currently no cure for the disease, when properly diagnosed its symptoms can be managed through a combination of medical care and counseling.
Medications can reestablish chemical balance, while counseling can help patients learn how to recognize emotional shifts and minimize their severity. People are able to live happy, functional lives while managing the effects of bipolar disorder. There are no reasons for individuals to suffer from this debilitating disorder.