The Warning Signs of Depression and Bipolar Disorder
It may be normal to feel extremely energized or even tired and sad as long as the feelings last for a short time. For people who feel intense emotional highs and lows for long periods of time, some form of intervention is necessary.
What is Depression and Bipolar Disorder?
Strong emotions are part of normal human behavior, but sometimes the brains ability to regulate emotions is compromised in some way. Brain-imaging tools show the brains of people with bipolar disorder may be different from healthy people. One area that seems to be most affected is the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain involved in executive functions that handle problem solving and making decisions according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
Bipolar disorder commonly begins during late adolescence. For example teenagers with the disorder may experience an initial episode of depression. Almost 6 million adult Americans have the disease according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).
A person with bipolar disorder experiences intense feelings that may range from feelings of invincibility and excitement to sadness and worthlessness. This cycle of feeling high and low is the hallmark of the disease although different symptoms may come at different times. A person may feel depressed with only an occasional period of agitation making the disease challenging to diagnose. A person may experience a manic episode that includes feelings of joy and agitation or a mixed episode that includes explosive emotions and irritability.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder are slightly different for everyone and often occur on a spectrum according to WebMD. The two most common types of the disease are bipolar I and bipolar II. Bipolar I is characterized by experiencing at least one manic episode during a lifetime and periods of depression. Bipolar II is similar to bipolar I although the manic episodes never reach a full high. Other types of bipolar disorder include the following:
- Rapid cycling: four or more episodes of mania or depression in a single year
- Mixed bipolar: mania and depression experiences at the same time or in rapid succession
- Cyclothymia: mild mood disorder with less severe periods of mania or depression
Diagnosing the disorder may be straightforward for some, but other people may fall outside the typical manic/depression variation and be more difficult to diagnose.
Treating and Living with Bipolar Disorder
When a persons emotional cycles are affected by something other than external causes, its a good idea to seek professional input. Sometimes the manic phase of bipolar disorder can feel so uplifting, it seems impossible that something is wrong. But when a person cycles to a new mood and must cope with the consequences of an expensive shopping spree or the things done and said at a social gathering, it is clearer that the behavior is a problem. On the flip side the depression symptoms of bipolar make a person feel miserable and it may be easier for him to see that something is wrong.
Reaching out to an expert, such as a psychiatrist, is key when it seems a person is having trouble regulating his moods, energy, activity levels or daily activities. Often a person will not realize he is having so much trouble, and it will take the intervention of family members or friends to start the first stages of treatment. Fortunately effective treatment helps people with bipolar disorder manage troubling symptoms and regain normal control of their lives.
Individuals who stay on medications and seek psychological counseling are best able to control the disease according to NIMH. Many people find it helpful to keep track of their daily activities and moods in order to flag any significant changes. A chart with significant information might include the following:
- Daily mood symptoms
- Sleep patterns
- Life events
In addition its important to stay under a medical professionals care. The symptoms of bipolar disorder may change over time and require different medical treatments. Because medications are an effective way to help people stabilize their moods, its important to find the right ones to get the most impact. Also different medications may work at different times.
Need Help Finding Treatment for Bipolar Disorder?
Its important to find the right treatment for bipolar disorder, which benefits most from a combination of medication like Xanax and talk therapy.
If you or a loved one needs treatment for bipolar disorder or want to know more about the disease, call us today. Our admissions coordinators offer advice about the best next step for treatment options. We are available seven days a week, 24 hours a day to share information and options. There is no reason to suffer alone with the uncertainty. Call our toll-free helpline today.
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