We have all experienced happy and sad moments in our lives, which tend to elevate or lower our mood for a particular period of time. These highs and lows come every now and then, but with the passage of time, our mood becomes neutral, and our real and true personality is reflected through our behaviors again.
Unfortunately though, that is not the case with a person suffering from a bipolar disorder. This disorder makes a person experience moods in black and white, rather than in shades of grey.
For bipolar individuals, these mood swings are poles apart, from one extreme to another, so much so, that it hinders their day-to-day functioning. One minute they are having a full-blown mania, and the next, they are having suicidal thoughts.
Bipolar disorder is also known as bipolar affective disorder. In the 1980s, this disorder was common as manic depression. The name was modified in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as it was believed that bipolar disorder is the better depiction of the symptoms.
Inside the Brain of a Bipolar
A person with bipolar feels either extremely high moods such as mania or hypomania, or they are tremendously down in a depressive state. When mania or hypomania kicks in, they feel exceptionally energetic, productive, impulsive, unusually cheerful, and make hasty decisions. On the other hand, during the depressive state, they are extremely pessimistic, and have negative viewpoints towards life. The feeling of hopelessness and the desire to cry is overpowering in that state.
These mood swings can take place on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. It is important to note that there is no fixed pattern or time, and one cannot necessarily occur before the other. The episodes can last for hours, days, week, and even months, and vary in intensity from mild to severe.
Bipolar disorders can really leave the person suffering, as well as those around them, confused. These are not ordinary mood swings, but a disorder that can really take a toll on the health, relationships, education and work performances of an individual.
Types of Bipolar Disorders
Although there are four types of bipolar disorders, two types are most common, which are described below.
Widely known as manic depression, in bipolar I, the mood of the individual is extremely ecstatic and euphoric. Their mood and behavior escalate so much that it is beyond the control of the individual. Lack of treatment in such a severe state will lead to hospitalization, and in some circumstances, even death. A person falls in the category of bipolar I, if they have a manic episode that lasts for at least 7 days. Having severe and intense manic symptoms also qualifies the person for instant hospitalization.
In bipolar II, the person will experience hypomania (mild mania). Although the person experiencing it may not feel it, the people around them can advise them to get help before the disorder takes a severe shape such as depressed or severely manic.
In this type, the person will experience mood swings. However, they will be less drastic and dramatic, as compared to bipolar I and II. Cyclothymia is also considered as an onset of either bipolar I or II. Therefore, the intake of proper medication is necessary in this condition.
Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)
A person who has a few of the symptoms of all the above three, but does not fit in a particular category is diagnosed with this type of bipolar disorder.
The only good part about this disorder is that it is treatable through medications and other techniques. So everyone out there on a journey with bipolar, do not give up just yet. You can come out on the other side as a healthy and satisfied individual, if you manage to seek help, and follow the treatment plan.