BIPOLAR DISORDER SYMPTOMSThe symptoms associated with bipolar disorder tend to fluctuate with which cycle the patient is experiencing. Patients experiencing a manic or “up” cycle may present with symptoms such as poor judgment, racing speech, inflated self esteem, feelings of euphoria and extreme optimism, risky behaviors, easily distracted, aggressive, agitation, less sleep, and increased physical activity. Patients experiencing a depressed or “down” phase may present with symptoms which include sadness, anxiety, irritability, problems with concentration, guilt, chronic pain, hopelessness, fatigue, loss of appetite, lack of interest in daily activities, sleep disturbances with an increased need for sleep, and recurring thoughts of suicide. Patients may experience varying degrees of symptoms and there are varying degrees of bipolar disorder. Some patients may be very subtle while other patients may experience every symptom plus a few more.
BIPOLAR DISORDER CAUSESIt is unclear what causes bipolar disorder, but research has proven that a combination of environmental factors, genetics, and biological factors influence the development of bipolar disorder. The evidence signifies that the chemical messages between nerve cells are unique in patients with bipolar disorder. There is a possible abnormality in the genes that control the neurotransmitters.
There is evidence that bipolar disorder is inherited and can be a genetic trait. Risk factors for bipolar disorder include having family members or ancestors with bipolar disorder. Researchers are working on finding the gene that might possibly lead to bipolar disorder.
BIPOLAR DISORDER DIAGNOSISA physical examination is required when attempting to determine whether or not a patient has bipolar disorder. It is best if the patient is accompanied by a family member to help describe symptoms and accurately answer questions. During the examination, medical conditions such as substance abuse and a blood test to rule out thyroid disorders should be performed. Bipolar disorder may take some time to diagnose correctly, in fact it should. There are plenty of other possible factors that can cause mood swings, such as vitamin B-12 deficiencies, Parkinson’s disease as well as medications commonly used to treat anxiety and depression. Family members of patients should be leery of a diagnosis that comes too quickly.
Bipolar disorder can have numerous complications, starting with relationships and financial impact. People with bipolar disorder may experience the world as a loving and embracing place and then shut the world out to isolate themselves from the people around them. They can be mean and hurtful and yet appear as though they feel they are logical. Relationships can be thoroughly tested. Simultaneously, it is possible for a victim of bipolar disorder to experience both a depressive cycle and a manic cycle at the same time, which can lead to psychosis.
Any experimentation with alcohol or recreational drugs is likely to have a much stronger effect on a patient with bipolar disorder. Severe depressive states may lead to suicidal thoughts, behaviors, and actions, and in some cases patients have been known to be successful. Most people with bipolar disorder can not maintain a strong support system, financial responsibilities, or constant monitoring of their medication and therapies without help.
BIPOLAR DISORDER TREATMENTMedications and therapy are the basic treatment options for a patient with bipolar disorder. There are still some physicians who opt to use ECT, or electroconvulsive therapy. ECT has been met with stern resistance by human rights activists as there are other therapies which have proven to have greater results without the use of electricity. However, those who use this technique claim it has a tremendous effect on the depressed brain, and since the patient has been given a muscle relaxant, there is no pain associated with ECT.
Some patients do very well once medicated and are able to achieve a high standard of living. Some patients refuse to stay consistent with their medication and can not tolerate the side effects. Patients who want to achieve a good standard of living must remain active in their own therapies and their own treatment.