About 2.6 percent of adult Americans suffer from bipolar disorder. The illness is also called manic-depressive illness. The disorder affects the brain and is characterized by unusual changes in mood, energy and activity levels. It also hinders sufferers ability to complete everyday tasks. People who suffer from bipolar disorder often have ups and downs in mood that most people experience; however, their episodes are more severe. The illness may have detrimental effects on a person's life including damaging interpersonal relationships, having a poor work performance and may even lead to suicide. Understand the symptom and getting help is the key to living with bipolar disorder.
Scientists agree that there is no single cause to bipolar disorder; however, many factors can increase the risk of being afflicted with the illness. There is a genetic connection to bipolar disorder, and children with a parent or sibling suffering from the illness are more likely to develop the disorder. However, genes are not the only factors that may cause bipolar disorder. In fact, studies on identical twins have shown that despite having the same genetic makeup, both twins don't always develop the disorder suggesting that environmental factors also play a role. Some brain imaging studies have shown that the brains of those affected with the disorder are different than the brains of healthy people. MRI scans have found a brain development link in children and that the frontal cortex in adults with bipolar disorder is typically smaller and less functioning than the brains of individuals without the illness.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder include intense emotional states that may be either joyful or extreme depression episodes. These symptoms affect energy levels, activity, behavior and a person's mood. Below is a list of symptoms of bipolar disorder during each of these distinct mood episodes.
-Feeling extremely happy and outgoing
-Having racing thoughts
-Being easily distracted
-Increased activity and projects
-Engaging in risky behavior
-Feeling sad and hopeless
-Loss of interest in activities
-Decreased sex drive
-Feeling restless and irritable
-Having thoughts of suicide
People with bipolar disorder typically suffer from the illness for their entire lives. While there is no cure, treatment can assist individuals with the disease and relieve the symptoms of the disorder. About half of people who recover from bipolar disorder have lingering effects. About 51 percent of all individuals suffering from bipolar disorder don't receive any treatment. Treatment typically involves a combination of medication and therapy. Below are various treatments for bipolar disorder.
Various medications can help alleviate the symptoms of bipolar disorder. The effectiveness of a medication will largely depend on a case to case basis since people respond differently to medications. Most medications for bipolar disorder are antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. Lithium, commonly known as the medications Eskalith or Lithobid, has been used since the 1970s to treat the symptoms of the disorder. Mood stabilizers such as Valproic acid and divalproex sodium have been used to treat the illness; however, young women shouldn't take valproic acid. Other medications that are commonly used for treatment include Lamotrigine, Neurontin and Topamax. Many of these drugs may also have side effects, and an individual should work with their doctor to find the best drug for their disorder. Some common side effects include dry mouth, decreased sex drive, bloating, acne, joint pain, brittle nails and hair, drowsiness, constipation, mood swings, heartburn, headache and dizziness.
Psychotherapy in combination with medication can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. Common therapy treatments for individuals suffering from this disease are listed below.
-Cognitive behavioral therapy: when individuals suffering from this disorder are trained to alter negative thought patterns into positive ones.
-Family-focused therapy: involves helping families communicate, so they can cope with having a loved one suffering from this disease.
-Interpersonal: helps people improve their daily schedules to protect against the effects of bipolar disorder such as managing sleep schedules.
-Psycho-education: teaches individuals to recognize the symptoms of their disorder, so they may seek additional treatment if necessary.
Some people have used alternative treatment to treat the symptoms of their manic-depressive disorder. Below are three common types of alternative treatments.
-Electroconvulsive Therapy: commonly known as shock therapy, has been used to treat people with severe bipolar disorder.
-Sleep Medications: Many people suffering from bipolar disorder have trouble sleeping. Doctors may prescribe sleep medications to help remedy this symptom.
-Herbal Remedies: While not backed by much research, some herbal remedies including St. John's wort has been used to treat bipolar disorder. Others have found taking omega-3 fatty acids supplements has helped alleviate their symptoms.
People who believe they may be suffering from bipolar disorder should speak with their doctor about treatment options. While this illness can't be cured, most sufferers can have their symptoms alleviated with psychotherapy and medication. Individuals suffering from severe cases may want to check in a health center or clinic that specializes in bipolar treatment. Individuals may also call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room if they believe they are a danger to themselves or others.