Monday, February 27, 2012

What is Bipolar Disorder?

I will start off my post by saying that I can by no means take any credit for the description that is posted below.  This information has all been obtained from the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) Website- You may visit the following link if you would like to read further about Bipolar Disorder:

You will also see a number of informative websites listed along the side of the blog if you have any interest in exploring more information.

With that being said, welcome back, let the blogging begin…

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) is a treatable illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy and behavior. It is not a character flaw or a sign of personal weakness. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression because a person’s mood can alternate between the "poles" of mania (highs) and depression (lows). These changes in mood, or "mood swings," can last for hours, days, weeks or months.
Nearly six (6) million adult Americans are affected by bipolar disorder. It usually begins in late adolescence (often appearing as depression during the teen years), although it can start in early childhood or later in life. An equal number of men and women develop this illness (men tend to begin with a manic episode, women with a depressive episode), and it is found among all ages, races, ethnic groups, and social classes. The illness tends to run in families and appears to have a genetic link.
Bipolar disorder differs significantly from clinical depression, although the symptoms for the depressive phase of the illness are similar. Most people who have bipolar disorder talk about experiencing "highs" and "lows"—periods of mania and depression. These swings can be severe, ranging from extreme energy to deep despair. The severity of the mood swings and the way they disrupt normal life activities distinguish bipolar mood episodes from ordinary mood changes.

When people experience symptoms of
both a manic and a depressive episode at the same time, they're said to be experiencing a mixed state (or mixed mania). They have all of the negative feelings that come with depression, but they also feel agitated, restless and activated, or “wired.” Those who have had a mixed state often describe it as the very worst part of bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of Mania: The "Highs" of Bipolar Disorder
  • Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
  • Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
  • Decreased need for sleep without experiencing fatigue
  • Grandiose thoughts, inflated sense of self-importance
  • Racing speech, racing thoughts, flight of ideas
  • Impulsiveness, poor judgment, easily distracted
  • Reckless behavior
  • In the most severe cases, delusions and hallucinations
Symptoms of Depression: The "Lows" of Bipolar Disorder
  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
  • Pessimism, indifference
  • Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide

    This is a good start for beginning to understand what Bipolar Disorder is. I will also be blogging about other major mental disorders as time goes by, my goal is not only related to getting rid of the stigma surrounding Bipolar Disorder- my goal is to eradicate stigma related to all mental illnesses.  Knowledge is key when it comes to erasing stigma!

“I have often asked myself whether, given the choice, if I would choose to have 
manic-depressive illness. If lithium were not available to me, or didn't work for me,
 the answer would be a simple no... and it would be an answer laced with terror. 
But lithium does work for me, and therefore I can afford to pose the question. 
Strangely enough, I think I would choose to have it. It's complicated.”

- Kay Redfield Jamison

Thanks for reading! Until next time…

-Kissing Stigma Goodbye-

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