Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects individuals from all walks of life.  There are over 6 million cases of bipolar disorder in the United States reported every year.  The disorder usually arises in the late teen years or early twenties.  In everyday society, bipolar disorder is often used as a loose term to describe individuals with mood swings, however this isn’t the most accurate depiction of the actual diagnosis of bipolar disorder.  Bipolar disorder consists of both manic and depressive episodes.  I won’t bog you down with the many nuances that exist, but in general, an individual must have at least one manic episode and one major depressive episode in their lifetime to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. 

Manic episodes (or mania) consist of abnormal behaviors characterized by rapid speech that causes irritability when interrupted, disorganized thought processes and content, an increased amount of energy with a decreased need for sleep and rest, and an inflated sense of self (people may feel that they are a powerful CEO, a president, king/ queen, or even a God).  Some other symptoms of mania include hypersexuality, excessive spending, substance abuse and other high-risk behaviors. 

Untreated manic episodes in bipolar disorder can last weeks to months if left untreated.  Bipolar disorder is also accompanied by depressive symptoms that can come immediately following a manic episode or be delayed by weeks or months.  The main treatment used to treat bipolar disorder are mood stabilizers and anti-psychotic medications. The goal in treatment is to prevent manic and depressive episodes and to provide the person with an optimal quality of life.  It is of extreme importance that the person who has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder or has experienced symptoms of bipolar disorder accept the need for treatment.  Acceptance of the disorder and adherence to a medication regimen are the primary goals in the management of bipolar disorder. 

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