Up until now, I haven’t really gotten into what exactly bipolar disorder is. For those readers who have absolutely no idea what it means or even what it is, I’m hoping this can shed some light. Some people will say it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain and while that may have some truth to it, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. It is a chronic long term mental illness that used to be known as “manic-depressive.” Having bipolar disorder causes unusual mood shifts in how a person feels, their energy level & activity level, as well as their daily functioning. It is marked by mood shifts between two emotional “poles.” One consisting of extremely “up”, elated, and energized behavior – which is known as manic episodes to extremely sad, “down”, and hopeless periods – which are known as depressive episodes. Less severe manic episodes, as I stated before are known as hypomanic episodes. This is the most common one for people with bipolar II disorder. People with bipolar I disorder tend to suffer from manic episodes, which are really dangerous and sometimes may need hospitalization. Once upon a time mania was considered to be the most dangerous episode, however today both bipolar I and bipolar II are are equally dangerous because major depression can lead to suicide. I hope I’m explaining this in a way that all readers can understand. If there is any confusion, please don’t be afraid to ask me for further explanation.
What is bipolar I disorder? People who suffer from this disorder suffer from extreme manic episodes that last at least 7 days. It is attributed to having abnormally high moods. Sometimes it is so severe that people need to be hospitalized. This usually occurs when a person goes into complete psychosis. It is very scary for the individual and the people they are surrounded by (family, friends, co-workers, etc). Single manic episodes may occur with or without periods of depression, however depression can also occur lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes usually depend on the individual, and for the most part you can tell they are occurring because the person has no reason to be happy, by they just are.
Bipolar II disorder consists of individuals who suffer from hypomania with alternating moods or major depression. Though hypomanic episodes are abnormal, they are not severe enough to impair daily functioning or require hospitalization. In other words, it is manageable not like full blown mania as I mentioned before. Medications are needed for both disorders, although bipolar bipolar II is extremely hard to diagnose because some doctors may diagnose you with unipolar if you do not state all of your symptoms.
I will discuss this further and provide explanations for terms that are easily misunderstood.
Cyclothymic disorder also known as cyclothymia is defined by numerous hypomanic symptoms over a period of two years. Unfortunately, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for hypomanic & depressive episodes. Episodes are not as severe as with mania or major depression.
Rapid cycling is a term used when an individual experiences 4 or more disturbances within a 12 month period.
Mixed episodes occur when a person experiences symptoms of both mania and depression at the same time. This can be highly dangerous and usually in this episode is when someone tries to attempt suicide.
Let’s discuss symptoms so we can get the bigger picture of each of the disorders stated above.
Individuals who suffer from manic episodes may feel the following: euphoria, very “up”, “high”, or elated moods, have a lot of energy, have increased activity levels, feel “jumpy” or “wired”, have trouble sleeping, become more active than usual, have racing thoughts or speech, think they can do a lot of things at once, do risky things for example: spend a lot of money, have reckless sex, or make foolish investments. These individuals are easily agitated, irritable, and\or touchy.
People who have major depression may feel the following: extremely sad, hopeless, and empty. Have very little energy or feel fatigue, have decreased activity levels, have trouble sleeping (either sleep too much or too little), constantly worry, forget a lot of things, eat way too much or too little, feel like they can’t enjoy anything at all, and often think about death or suicide.
I hope I gave some insight on the severity of these terms, what they means, and what people with bipolar have to deal with. I’m currently at work so I wrote this as quickly as you could and to the best of my knowledge. If there is something I am missing or if you feel there is more I can add, please comment below. Overall, I’m glad I can break down what bipolar is and it’s symptoms for a better understanding to the world. It is important and significant to know these things to fully comprehend the disorder.
Before leaving you, I would like to emphasize to those who never been diagnosed before, but think they may have bipolar disorder – please, please do not forget to state all of your symptoms to your physician. You and your closest see you everyday, your doctor does not. Listen to yourself and to those close to you. Give as much information to your diagnostician as possible. This will help you so much! People tend to go seek help when they are depressed and at their lowest. If you are depressed, but have had manic episodes – please do not forget to mention them to your doctor. Manic episodes are just as important as depressive ones. Do not get misdiagnosed!
Thank you for reading. Till next time. God bless everyone.