Bipolar Disorder: Understanding Manic Depression

Life, they say, is a journey that has its peaks and low points. But these ups and downs are more pronounced, more emotionally damaging with a person who has bipolar disorder or manic depression.

Bipolar disorder can be likened to a ball that is continuously bouncing – times of high energy (or mania) and times of feeling extremely low, times where one feels he can do anything and times where one can’t find the energy to lift even a finger. There are also some cases where those with bipolar disorder dwell longer on the depressed “phase” rather than in the manic phase.

The intensity of these highs and lows are so high that one’s ability to function normally everyday are seriously impaired. Bipolar disorder will also wreak damage on one’s relationships with family and friends and to one’s professional life.

When left untreated, bipolar disorder can only worsen and produce obvious negative effects not just on emotions, but also in the physical aspect such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and migraines. Bipolar disorder will also affect one’s concentration, appetite, judgment, energy level and self-esteem.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder strikes about 2.6% of Americans that are 18 years old and above every year. This means that the number of persons with this disease is on the rise. The disease is also equally distributed between men and women, and all races, ethnic groups, ages and social classes. Also based on statistics by the National Institute of Mental Health, there is an indication that bipolar disorder is a inheritable disease as close to 70% of those with bipolar disorder also have at least one close relative with bipolar disorder or major depression.

The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Although bipolar disorder is seen as jumping from one extreme to the other, bipolar disorder symptoms may actually vary from person to person. Each person may have different patterns where the severity of each phase of the cycle, as well as the frequency, varies. There are some manic depressives who shift from mania to depression at more or less regular intervals. There are also some that lean more towards either mania or depression. The intensity may vary where you can have sever mania or hypomania (mania that is mild to moderate) and severe depression or mild to moderate depression.

Mania. During this phase, one may have bouts of high energy and creativity. There may even be a flurry of hyperactivity and euphoria, where one has an unrealistic view of his abilities and powers – he feels he can do and be anything he wants. There is a feeling that one is never wrong. The danger with this phase is that there is a tendency to perform destructive acts – ringing up thousands of dollars in one’s credit card, making very rash personal and career decisions and engaging in sexual promiscuity. Those in this phase may:

–          Be highly aggressive and may pick fights with others

–          Talk a mile a minute

–          Be very restless and irritable and easily distracted

–          Sleep very little (as he feels there is little need for sleep)

–          Indulge in substance abuse: drugs, alcohol and sleep medications

Hypomania. This is more manageable than mania since it is less severe. There is also a heightened sense of euphoria and productivity. At this time, one is in unusually high spirits. Those in the hypomanic state are able to continue with daily functions and still keep their sense of reality. However, there may still be cases where decisions made during this state can be damaging to the persons involved.

Mild to moderate depression. This phase is marked by a persistent feeling of sadness, fatigue, emptiness, hopelessness or anxiety. During this phase, one may lose interest in performing day-to-day activities, in food and in sex. When those in a manic state are prone to making rash decisions, those in the depressive state can hardly make decisions and will have difficulty focusing and remembering.

Severe depression. This phase is also dangerous as those in this phase often exhibit suicidal tendencies. They will neglect themselves to the point where they are not able to eat or sleep properly and will forget about maintaining their hygiene or appearance. There may also be times when they behave as if they have a death wish. During this phase, there is a higher risk with people who have a tendency towards substance abuse to attempt suicide.

Help for Bipolar Disorder

Treatment for bipolar disorder may be a long term activity. It is also highly encouraged that those who exhibit symptoms of bipolar disorder seek an experienced psychiatrist who can provide treatment, including medication. And, to get an accurate diagnosis of a person’s symptoms, one should undergo a comprehensive evaluation that encompasses the person’s medical, psychological and social condition.

One can also benefit from the help of a Utah therapist to get coping tools to deal with damages in relationships, manage stress, as well as cope with the negative and difficult feelings or behaviors. With therapy, one can know how to avoid the triggers and minimize the possibility of a relapse.

Help for Loved Ones

Undoubtedly, the loved ones will also need help in dealing with this illness. It is important for the patient’s recovery that he has the continued support and encouragement from people he loves. And his family may need some help in this area. They can seek family therapy in Provo to help provide them with the tools needed for them to properly support their loved one.

With Utah family counseling, family members can:

–          Be more aware of the symptoms, monitor the patient’s moods and watch out for damaging or destructive behavior.

–          Gain perspective about the disorder and know the “proper” way to respond to the loved ones’ actions and symptoms

–          Work together to ensure that the home environment is healthy and supportive not just for the patient but for the rest of the family members

–          Minimize the patient’s stress

–          Help the patient make healthy choices

–          Help the patient care for himself – i.e. ensuring that a regular sleeping and eating schedule is kept

Don’t wait to get help until it’s too late! If you are looking for an experience family therapist in Provo, Utah, be sure to book an initial appointment with Dr. Triston Morgan. In the span of Dr. Morgan’s practice, he has gained extensive experience in helping individuals and families triumph over the difficulties they have in life.


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