What is Bipolar Illness?
It is a form of mental illness which is more widespread than we think. As an example, more than 2.6% of the population of the United States of America exhibit symptoms of bipolar disorder. The most common manifestation of this illness is that the person who is affected swings between two extreme moods of hyperactivity (or mania) and extreme depression, but anxiety and anger/rage can also be prominent symptoms. Symptoms can occur at any time in one’s life, and it is not unusual for depression to be the primary and most common symptom.
Unlike the symptoms (like fever, cough, pain etc.) of physical ailments, mental ailments can sometimes be present in a person for years without anybody (even the person herself) realizing it. That is why you need to be aware of the tell-tale signs that can indicate to you that a person is suffering. Let us look at the common symptoms of both the extremes mania and depression:
- Mania: If you observe someone frequently making rash decisions or behaving recklessly, then it could be a symptom of mania or hypomania. In fact, even unexplained irritability, anger or rage could be a sign of the person experiencing a manic state. Hypomania (which is a milder form of mania) could also indicate the presence of the illness. If a person exhibits these behaviors, an evaluation may be necessary.
- Depression: The symptoms of a depressive state may be easier to recognize. Frequent symptoms include unexplained weight gain or weight loss, lack of appetite, sleeplessness or oversleeping, suicidal thoughts, fatigue, loss of interest and pleasure, agitation or moving slowly, poor concentration and poor motivation.
There are some possible explanations that explain the origin of bipolar illness, but the exact cause is unknown. These are three of the causes that experts think are possible:
- Heredity: In terms of statistics alone, it has been observed that if a person has bipolar illness, there are other family members who have the condition as well.
- Brain Structure : Brian imaging has shown some differences in the brains of people with bipolar illness, but the exact correlation is unclear.
- Stress: In some cases, symptoms of bipolar illness can be uncovered by a stressful event at home or work, like the death of a parent, spouse or sibling, or the loss of a job. Such an event could have an either end of the spectrum – the person might suffer a manic attack or a depressive episode.
Support and encouragement from family and friends is something is important in the treatment of bipolar illness. Treatment is necessary to control the symptoms.
- Medication: Are generally required to stabilize mood. Several different medication categories are used to treat bipolar illness including mood stabilizers, antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Medications do not sure bipolar illness and are usually required long term.
- Psychotherapy: In combination with medication, psychotherapy helps understand the disease, teaches way to monitor symptoms and gain control of their lives.
Bipolar Illness is much more prevalent than we think. Proper education and awareness can lead to early detection and effective treatment.