What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is also called manic-depressive illness. This brain disorder prompts unusual changes in a person's moods and energy levels, and it can negatively impact their ability to get through the day normally. Bipolar Disorder may present as depression, mania/hypomania or a mixed state which has components of both. This makes it extremely important to get a proper diagnosis before beginning treatment as the symptoms can be easily overlooked or confused with another diagnosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be misunderstood by many people today. It is a common misconception that people with bipolar disorder have major mood swings during a single day. In fact, bipolar disorder is not characterized by quick and obvious changes that happen constantly. True bipolar disorder results in mood swings that persist for days or even weeks. Many bipolar disorder sufferers have problems with maintaining a regular sleep schedule, especially during their episodes. A person with bipolar disorder may have a period where they are highly irritable for several days or weeks and then shift into an upbeat mood for several more days or weeks.
What Other Disorders Have Similar Symptoms?
People who suffer from unipolar depression, or many of the different personality disorders, may show symptoms that appear to be quite similar to those of bipolar disorder. However, an experienced psychiatrist can do a full patient evaluation to make sure that a proper diagnosis is made.
How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
Bipolar disorder is treated in several different ways and much depends on a patient's current symptoms and history of symptoms, so it varies from one patient to the next. For example, the medications options for Bipolar 1, differ for those who suffer from Bipolar 2. However, medications are the mainstay option for mood stabilization in most patients. The most abundant evidence-based research reveals that mood stabilizers such as Lithium, Depakote, and Lamictal, as well as newer medications, such as second-generation antipsychotics, are the most effective primary treatment options for Bipolar Disorder. Proper dosage is extremely important, so working with an experienced, board-certified psychiatrist is essential for patients who suffer from bipolar disorder or any other type of mood disorder. There are also non-medication aspects that can be used to optimize treatment plans including cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy.