Many mental health conditions have escaped the medical field’s understanding until the last 20 years or so. Bipolar disorder is one of them. Mental health sufferers were hospitalized or visited mental health facilities, where they were medicated and underwent psychotherapy. However, in today’s medical world, mental health conditions are being studied and dealt with on a more personal and deeper level.
Signals travel to and through the brain using neurotransmitters. Some of these brain chemicals regulate pleasure and mood. A short in the wiring of the brain seems connected to psychological problems. Researchers think the short in the wiring pertains to seratonin, a neurotransmitter dealing with mood swings.
What this means to a bipolar disorder sufferer is mood swings that go to extremes. When the person swings toward a high, his/her mood is euphoric or manic. A swing toward the low side causes deep depression.
When the person is euphoric or happy, s/he will feel energetic or abnormally irritable. A depressed person, on the other hand, will feel sad and hopeless. Both these mood swings affect the person’s work, energy level, sleep, and thought processes.
Bipolar disorder happens to people in their teens and continues for life. It affects both men and women. Around two percent of America’s population has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder with almost 83 percent diagnosed as severe.
People are different, so symptoms will vary. People may have a manic or euphoric episode back to back with a depressive one. Some people go for years without an episode at all. Some episodes of mania or depression might include hallucinations, delusions, or suicidal impulses.
Persons in a manic state are often unaware of where their mood can take them. Unwise financial moves, otherwise bad decisions, and off the wall behavior are all symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Those in a depressed state often can’t sleep, stay asleep longer than usual, or don’t want to get out of bed. Decisions are harder to make such as what to eat or what to wear. This inability to function properly frequently leads to suicide.
Because bipolar disorder is considered a life-long illness, a customized treatment plan is recommended. Most people seek medical help during either the manic or depressive phase of the disorder. Medication in the form of antidepressants for the depressive stage and mood stabilizers for the manic stage are always prescribed.
Medication will continue throughout the disorder. When people in the manic phase feel as if they don’t need the medication any longer, they stop taking it. This causes a relapse, and they need to be medicated again.
Psychotherapy is a huge help for bipolar persons. Cognitive behavioral therapy helps the person and their family identify negative and harmful thought processes and replace them with positive ones. Psychoeducation allows the person and his/her family to learn more about the disorder. The person and his/her family will then recognize what’s happening and be better able to deal with it.
Lifestyle changes are helpful with the disorder. Managing the diet, proper and restful sleep, eliminating or managing stressors, and exercise all mean a healthy body and mind. This allows the person to better manage his/her bipolar episodes.
Maintenance medication, behavioral therapy, and patient education are the cornerstones of our practice. Because “everyone deserves a second chance,” your medical professional will work with you to deliver the best possible outcome for your personal situation. You will schedule sessions so that your doctor may monitor your progress. If you need to see your doctor more often until you improve, then that can be accomplished.
Patient education is the key to understanding not only the disorder but why the medication and psychotherapy are necessary. We’ll walk you through it all and continue your learning as more information becomes available.