More than two million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, either type 1 or type 2. Type 1 Bipolar Disorder is characterized as an individual who has experienced at least one manic stage in their lifetime along with bouts of major depression. Type 2 Bipolar Disorder is characterized as an individual whose mood cycles between feeling extremely happy to feeling extremely down, but does not ever reach a state of mania. The term mania is described as an elevated state of mind when individuals may engage in risky or extreme behavior. There are also different cycling patterns for those who suffer from Bipolar Disorder, one of which is rapid cycling. Rapid cycling is diagnosed when a person suffers from four or more manic or depressive stages in one year. Now that we have discussed the types and major definitions of Bipolar Disorder, let’s discuss the diagnosis and treatment process.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder can often be confused with other types of mental illness, so the most common way to accurately diagnosis this disorder is speaking candidly with a mental health doctor. A few of the major symptoms of this disorder are: extreme mood swings that go between mania and depression, suicidal tendencies, and also the sufferer’s denial of these symptoms all together. If you believe you may be suffering from Bipolar Disorder it may be helpful to keep a journal of any unusual behaviors, sleeping habits, medications, and any mental or physical concerns before going to see a doctor. This may aid the doctor in diagnosing you properly.
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder is usually a combination of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, and gaining support from family or friends. The three types of medications used most often to treat this disorder are mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants. The classic medication prescribed is Lithium carbonate, which is a mood stabilizer that can lower the amount of manic cycles a person could suffer. Other than Lithium, some sufferers have been prescribed Valporic acid and Carbamazepine, as mood stabilizers. In most cases, an antidepressant is also used in addition to mood stabilizing drugs, so that a patient doesn’t fall into a cycle of major depression. Some of the antidepressants most commonly used are; Paxil, Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, and Zoloft. Most mental health professionals agree that medication alone does not adequately handle the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder and that medication should only be used while a patient is seeking help through therapy. Using therapy is also a good way to get support from family and friends, and most therapists will involve the patient’s loved ones to help achieve a better sense of support for the patient. Bipolar disorder can make an individual feel extremely alone, and family or friend involvement can be very helpful as part of a treatment plan.
What type of changes can you make at home to help with symptoms of Bipolar Disorder? Make sure that you keep your home as a calm environment, one where you can feel completely at ease. Keep yourself to a regular routine as this can significantly help with depressive cycles. Allow yourself the time to get at least eight hours of sleep. Getting enough rest can help from getting into an elevated cycle that could lead to mania. Also a small change in your diet can make a difference, avoiding any food or drink with caffeine or other stimulant, can again help with the effects of a manic cycle.
In summary, if you feel that any of the symptoms I described fit into a health concern that you have, please contact a mental health professional to set up an appointment. Bipolar Disorder can be a scary situation, but as I said before, there are two million other people who are in the same boat as you. Don’t feel alone, there are ways to effectively manage the symptoms and to create a support system for you.