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Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition where there are extreme mood shifts that include emotional highs (mania and hypomania) and lows (depression). This condition can negatively affect one’s mental health, physical health, behavior and personal and work relationships. Bipolar disorder alters the way people feel to the point where it can make it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to continue their daily routine. With this condition, people experience episodes of mania and depression. Mania is a period of an abnormally elevated mood with thoughts rapidly racing and feeling hyperactive, overly confident and powerful.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

People with bipolar disorder may experience manic episodes that last for a few days to several weeks. Some may experience episode changes several times a year, while others may experience them only once in a while. The three main symptoms of this condition include: mania, hypomania and depression.

During an episode of hypomania or mania, a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder may experience:

  • Euphoria (exaggerated sense of well- being and self-confidence)
  • Increased energy, activity or agitation
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Poor decision making – e.g. going on spending sprees, making foolish investments, taking sexual risks

During a depressive episode, one may experience loss of energy and fatigue, feelings of deep sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, marked loss of interest in most activities and inability to feel pleasure, feeling guilty or worthless, decreased ability to think and focus, difficulty making decisions, suicidal thoughts or tendencies.

Generally, bipolar patients spend significantly more time in the depression phase than in the manic/hypomanic phase of the illness.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

There are several different treatments available to help manage bipolar disorder conditions, including medications, lifestyle changes and counselling. Obtaining a correct diagnosis of your condition is crucial as the treatment of bipolar depression varies significantly from regular (unipolar) depression disorder. Some recommended and most widely used medications include:

  • Mood stabilizers
  • Antidepressant medications
  • Antipsychotic medications

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