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What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Bipolar disorder often develops in a person’s late teens or early adult years. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Some people have their first symptoms during childhood, while others may develop symptoms late in life.

Bipolar disorder is not easy to spot when it starts. The symptoms may seem like separate problems, not recognized as parts of a larger problem. Some people suffer for years before they are properly diagnosed and treated. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.

The primary symptoms of bipolar disorder are periods of elevated or irritable mood accompanied by dramatic increases in energy, activity, and thinking. The illness has two (bi) strongly contrasting phases (polar): 1) bipolar mania or hypo-mania and 2) depression.

Bipolar mania or hypo-mania symptoms include:

  • Euphoria or irritability
  • Excessive talk; racing thoughts
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Unusual energy; less need for sleep
  • Impulsiveness, a reckless pursuit of gratification (shopping sprees, impetuous travel, more and sometimes promiscuous sex, high-risk business investments, fast driving)

Bipolar depression/major depression symptoms include:

  • Depressed mood and low self-esteem
  • Low energy levels and apathy
  • Sadness, loneliness, helplessness, guilt
  • Slow speech, fatigue, and poor coordination
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts and feelings
  • Poor concentration
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in usual activities

For more information, please contact Summit Pointe to speak with a mental health professional who will be glad to assist you and answer your questions. 269-966-1460