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Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorderBipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that can be quite misunderstood. It’s estimated that 5.5 million Americans age 18 or older, or 2.6 percent of the adult population have the disorder. Bipolar disorder can be detrimental if not properly managed.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar Disorder, or Manic-Depressive Illness, is a brain disorder characterized by changes in mood, thought and behavior that may impair day-to-day functioning. This condition differs from the normal highs and lows we may experience in the course of our lives.

The mood shifts of Bipolar Disorder tend to be extreme and include manic and depressive episodes. An individual experiencing mania may seem overly cheerful and outgoing. He or she may also present as irritable or agitated. Other symptoms include rapid speech, disrupted sleep, distractibility and impulsive, often high-risk behavior. The depressive episodes of Bipolar Disorder tend to be severe, associated with disruption of appetite and sleep, suicidal thoughts and loss of pleasure. In the mixed states, both manic and depressive symptoms coexist.

When does it show up?

Usually, the first episode of Bipolar Disorder may occur in adolescence or early adult life. Symptoms in initial episodes tend to be depressive, and may be misdiagnosed as pure depression and treated with antidepressants. Careful history taking, including special attention to a family history of Bipolar Disorder, may prevent misdiagnosis.

What is the treatment?

The treatment of Bipolar Disorder includes both medication and psycho-social interventions. Medications that stabilize mood include Lithium, Depakote, Trileptal and Tegretol. If an individual is agitated or experiencing hallucinations or delusions, other medications may be added to, or substituted for, the mood stabilizer.

The treatment of Bipolar Disorder requires a collaborative relationship among consumers, psychiatric providers (psychiatrists and psychiatric NPs), family and support systems, and the psychosocial treatment network.

Get help.

If you or someone you love is exhibiting signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder, we can help. Horizon provides specific treatment and management of bipolar and other mental health disorders. Call us today at (716) 832.1800.