Bipolar, also known as manic depression is an illness which causes severe mood swings which can range from extreme highs, described as mania to extreme lows- depression. Episodes of these swings usually last between several weeks or months. These moods can involve low moods, intense depression and despair. The high points of this illness usually include high or manic feelings of joy, over-activity and loss inhibitions. The negative side of this illness will put you in a mixed state, causing you to feel depressed with restlessness and over-activity of a manic episode. According to BBC Health the exact causes of bipolar are not actually known by anybody but it is thought that the following aspects play an important part in the condition

· Genes. It is said that if you have a relative suffering from bipolar disorder, you have a higher chance of developing the illness in the future.
· Physical problem with your brain systems which control your mood therefore, bipolar disorder can usually be controlled with medication.
· Stress is known to trigger mood swings

Bipolar often leads on from Depression and symptoms of depression include:

· Sadness and feeling hopeless
· Lack of energy
· Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
· Loss of interest in everyday activities
· Feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
· Feelings of guilt and despair
· Feeling pessimistic about everything
· Doubting yourself
· Being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed/illogical thinking
· Lack of appetite
· Difficulty sleeping
· Waking up early
· Suicidal thoughts

There are various types of bipolar.

Bipolar I- This usually involves one high/manic episode, lasting longer than a week. Sometimes it can mean you only have manic episodes although most people suffering this will also go through periods of depression

Bipolar II- This is where you have more than one episode of severe depression but only mild manic episodes. It is known as ‘hypomania’

Rapid cycling- You have more than four mood swings which happen over a year. This affects around one in 10 people suffering from the condition.

Cyclothymia- The mood swings are not as bad but happen often and last longer

If a mood swing becomes very severe, it is possible you may be suffering with ‘psychotic’ symptoms which generally include you feeling guilty, worse than anybody else and even non-existent to people. When feeling manic, you may feel like you have to complete an important mission or that you have super powers and abilities which you don’t in fact have. You may also experience hallucinations, thinking you can hear, smell or feel something which isn’t actually there.

There are three groups of mood stabilisers which can treat the condition which take several months to actually work properly. These include:

· Lithium- treats manic and depressive episodes, can be harmful if the dose is too high, regular blood tests are needed, side effects include feeling thirsty, passing lots of urine and weight gain.
· Anticonvulsants- used by people suffering from epilepsy
· ‘Atypical’ antipsychotics- used to treat people suffering from schizophrenia

You can also help yourself in various ways to help with episodes of bipolar by recognising the signs that your mood is swinging out of control therefore you can get help early on. It is helpful to find out as much as you can about the condition. Try hard to avoid stressful situations. Have one person you can fully rely on and confide in and when you’re well, make sure they understand about bipolar disorder. Balance your life, work, leisure-time and relationships, exercising for 20 minutes or so three times a week can have a big influence on your mood and should help you feel better about yourself. And finally, simply do things you enjoy.

It is also just as hard for people living with someone suffering with the condition than it is for the person who is ill. It is difficult to know what to say and may begin to see everything in a negative light and feel afraid of saying what they want the person suffering to do. It is helpful if you listen, be patient and understanding. During the mania stage of bipolar, the person will appear happy, energetic or outgoing however, the excicetmet of social situations can put their mood even higher. It is advised you steer them away from parties/heated discussions and persuade them to seek help instead. Also, in between mood episodes, find as much out as you can about bipolar disorder. If it helps you, attend appointments with them if they are comfortable with you doing so. Be sure to give yourself time and space to relax and recharge your batteries.

Bipolar disorder is something that is spoken about in the media a lot as many well-known celebrities suffer from it. For example, Jim Carey, a successful actor. He suffered from depression at the peak of success and he publicly acknowledged this and and asked for help. He admitted to a newspaper that depression was the motivation behind the comedies he produced. A lot of people attributed his condition to bipolar disorder and he was put on the anti-depressant drug called Prozac. Another surprising celebrity who suffered bipolar is Ben Stiller, his parents believe his bipolar is generic as his mother’s mother committed suicide when his mother was 11 years old. And a more recent story, Kerry Katona has admitted she’s being treated for the illness and admits that doctors have said she may suffer from it for the rest of her life.


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