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BIPOLAR DISORDER | Print |

Below is information that has been re-printed from WebMD (www.webmd.com) on bipolar disorder.   If you are concerned that you, or someone that you know, may have a problem with bipolar disorder, please call the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities at (404) 613-3675.   Our Behavioral Health Access & Information Line is available Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM.   If you need assistance after those hours, please call the Georgia Crisis & Access Line at 1-800-715-4225.

BIPOLAR DISORDER

Bipolar Disorder

According to WebMD, Bipolar Disorder was formerly called manic depression.   It is a major affective disorder, or mood disorder, characterized by dramatic mood swings.   Bipolar disorder is a serious condition, when mania causes sleeplessness, sometimes for days, along with hallucinations, psychosis, grandiose delusions, and/or paranoid rage.

WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER?

Bipolar disorder is a complex genetic disorder.   The mood swings associated with it alternate from major, or clinical, depression to mania or extreme elation.   The mood swings can range from very mild to extreme, and they can happen gradually or suddenly within a timeframe or minutes to hours.   When mood swings happen frequently, the process is called rapid cycling.

WHAT CAUSES BIPOLAR DISORDER?

Like with other mood disorders, what causes bipolar disorder is not known.   What is known is that bipolar disorder has a genetic component and can run in families.

AT WHAT AGE IS BIPOLAR DISORDER USUALLY DIAGNOSED?

Bipolar disorder usually appears between the ages of 15 and 24 and persists throughout a lifetime.   It's rare that newly diagnosed mania is seen in children or in adults over age 65.   Severity of symptoms varies with individuals who have bipolar disorder.   While some people have a few symptoms, others have many that impair their ability to work and live a normal life.

Marked by relapses and remissions, bipolar disorder has a high rate of recurrence if untreated.   Patients with severe mania usually require hospitalization to keep them from risky behaviors.   Those who are severely depressed also might need hospitalization to keep them from acting on suicidal thoughts. About 90% of individuals with bipolar 1 disorder, which is the more serious form, have at least one psychiatric hospitalization.   Two out of three will have two or more hospitalizations in their lifetime.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER?

According to WebMD, the clinical depression symptoms seen with bipolar disorder include:

  • Decreased appetite and/or weight loss, or overeating and weight gain
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, and making decisions
  • Fatigue, decreased energy, being "slowed down"
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex ¬†
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain
  • Persistently sad, anxious, or "empty" moods
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, suicide attempts

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF MANIA WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER?

According to WebMD, the signs of mania with bipolar disorder include:

  • Disconnected and racing thoughts
  • Grandiose notions
  • Inappropriate elation
  • Inappropriate irritability
  • Inappropriate social behavior
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Increased talking speed and/or volume
  • Markedly increased energy
  • Poor judgment
  • Severe insomnia

WHAT IS BIPOLAR II DISORDER?

According to WebMD, while mania is the main characteristic of bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder has milder periods of elation known as hypomania.   It also has episodes of mild or major depression.   According to the DSM-IV, a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association, the difference between mania and hypomania is the degree of severity.

SIGNS OF HYPOMANIA WITH BIPOLAR II DISORDER

The signs of hypomania with bipolar II disorder include the following:

  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Extreme focus on projects at work or home
  • Exuberant and elated mood
  • Increased confidence
  • Increased creativity and productivity
  • Increased energy and libido
  • Reckless behaviors
  • Risk-taking behaviors

DIAGNOSING BIPOLAR DISORDER

As with most mood disorders, there is no laboratory test or x-ray to diagnose bipolar disorder.   After performing a physical exam, your doctor will evaluate your signs and symptoms.   Your doctor also will ask about your personal medical history and family history.   Lab tests may be done to rule out other serious illnesses that can affect mood.

In addition, your doctor may want to talk with family members to see if they can identify times when you were elated.   Because elation may feel good, it's often hard for a person with bipolar disorder to know if the mood was too high.   Mania often affects thinking, judgment, and social behavior in ways that cause serious problems and embarrassment.   For example, unwise business or financial decisions may be made when an individual is in a manic phase.   So early diagnosis and effective treatment is very important with bipolar disorder.

HOW IS BIPOLAR DISORDER TREATED?

According to WebMD, treatment for bipolar disorder may include the use of mood stabilizers such as lithium.   Anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines may also be used to stabilize mood.   Sometimes antidepressants are given in combination with mood stabilizers to boost the depressed mood.   In addition, stimulants may be used to step up or boost the antidepressant drug action.

 

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GET HELP

If you have questions about bipolar disorder, or wish to make an appointment for yourself or a loved one, please contact our Behavioral Health Access & Information Line at (404) 613-3675.     A clinician from the Fulton County Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities is  available Monday thru Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, and can assist you.   After hours, please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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