What is Bipolar Disorder, How is it Diagnosed?

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Bipolar disorderis shrouded in uncertainty and fear, and carries an important social stigma. But more public awareness about this mood disorder can help us identify friends and family members who need help more quickly. There are usually two distinct mood patterns associated with the disorder: mania (or a less severe form called hypomania) and depression. To be diagnosed with bipolar, the patient must show symptoms of mania or hypomania.

Typical symptoms of mania include a swollen sense of self, decreased need or lack of sleep, racing thoughts, distraction, and increased impulsivity with risky behavior. A bipolar diagnosis can be devastating, resulting in hospitalization to stabilize depression or mania, problems keeping a job, and self-medication with drugs and alcohol.

Know the Criteria

Bipolar disorder equally distributed between men and women. The condition typically occurs between the ages of 15 and 24, but a second peak is found in the age range of 45 to 54 years. Because this disorder tends to have a gradual, insidious onset, it can be difficult to quickly identify disturbing behavior patterns for what they are. Younger patients tend to have more manic symptoms, including irritability and recklessness, and are more likely to use drugs and alcohol. Of course, in teenagers these symptoms may be related to nothing more than typical hormonal fluctuations.

Sometimes, bipolar mania can occur with little warning – for example, in the postpartum period for women. Therefore, it is important for women to discuss their mood symptoms with their healthcare professionals during and after pregnancy.

How to Diagnose Bipolar Disorder

When Should I Get Help?

Often, people with the disorder do not seek help until they lose their job, drop out of school, or face legal problems. Severe depression, with paranoia and hallucinations caused by suicidal thoughts or manic symptoms that become psychotic, may require involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. If you’re worried you might be bipolar, ask your friends and family members about your mood swings and behavior patterns. They can help you decide if it’s time to seek professional help.

Dealing with Bipolar Stigma

A bipolar diagnosis can bring a mix of emotions for patients. On the one hand, there may be comfort in finally getting an accurate diagnosis after years of struggle. On the other hand, there may be a new fear of how others will see them. bipolar disorder Individuals with mental illness are defined as those who experience frequent extreme changes in irritability and anger, are in a persistent emotional state, and are unstable in their relationships. Patients and their families are concerned about the lifelong struggle with the disease, as well as the possible genetic consequences for the offspring. Unfortunately, causes of bipolar disorder is complex. Although there is a genetic contribution, the researchers have not identified the individual genes responsible. Still, knowing your family history can be helpful.

Health is important to the health of patients. Get enough sleep at night, avoid recreational drugs and excessive alcohol use, eat well and exercise regularly. Talking to healthcare professionals about treatment plans can also help patients cope with symptoms. Although it is a serious diagnosis, bipolar disorder it can often be treated effectively and allows patients to live their lives to the fullest – perhaps dispelling the greatest myth surrounding the condition.

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