Diagnosing and Treating Bipolar Disorder
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Do you know that bipolar disorder cannot be diagnosed with a blood test or brain scan? Diagnosis occurs after a close examination of symptoms. Watch the video on diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder to learn more.
Transcript: Most people with bipolar disorder can successfully balance their moods with medication. But how do you...
Most people with bipolar disorder can successfully balance their moods with medication. But how do you know that it's bipolar disorder? Although bipolar disorder cannot yet be identified physiologically-for example, through a blood test or a brain scan - diagnosis of the disorder can be made on the basis of a person's symptoms, the course of the illness, and, when available, family history. When someone has Bipolar Disorder, they have dramatic swings from periods of frenetic activity, or "manic" moods, to hopeless "depressive" moods. The first step in diagnosing Bipolar disorder is identifying these two mood states. A manic episode is diagnosed if an elevated mood occurs with three or more other symptoms nearly every day for 1 week or longer, or if an extremely irritable mood occurs with four or more manic symptoms. Symptoms of mania include increased energy, restlessness or aggressive behavior, extreme irritability, racing thoughts, rapid speech, and jumping from one idea to another and loose sexual behavior. Other common symptoms of mania include a limited need for sleep, spending sprees, an unrealistic belief in one's abilities, poor judgment, drug abuse, and denial that anything is wrong. A depressive episode is diagnosed if five or more symptoms occur nearly every day for a period of 2 weeks or longer. Symptoms of Depression include a lasting sad mood, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or helplessness, and a decreased interest in pleasure. Other symptoms of depression can include decreased energy, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, irritability, sleep disturbance and a change in appetite or unintended weight changes. The most effective treatment for bipolar disorder is a combination of medication and therapy, administered continuously over time. Most patients-even those with severe forms-can achieve substantial stabilization of mood swings and related symptoms with proper treatment. Because bipolar disorder is a recurrent illness, long-term preventive treatment is strongly recommended. Medications prescribed for bipolar disorder are almost always mood-stabilizers like Lithium, the first mood-stabilizer approved by the FDA for treatment of mania. Doctors also prescribe a variety of anti-convulsant drugs like Depakote and Tegratol, which sometimes have mood-stabilizing effects. For maximum effect, Lithium is often combined with one of the anti-convulsants. Medication is key in the treatment of bipolar disorder, and can be further helped when used in conjunction with psycho-social treatments, leading to increased mood stability, fewer hospitalizations, and improved functioning in several areas. Bipolar disorder is a complex illness, and its treatment can be as well - for proper diagnosis and treatment, please see a mental health professional. Want to learn more? Check out other videos and sources on this site for more information.More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-07 | Tags »
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Irrational irritability, feelings of despair and reckless behavior are a few of the major warning signs of bipolar disorder. Check out this video to learn more.
Transcript: Emotional highs and lows are a normal part of life. But unpredictable moods that shift from frenzied...
Emotional highs and lows are a normal part of life. But unpredictable moods that shift from frenzied euphoria to the sadness, withdrawal and hopelessness of depression are NOT normal. When are these symptoms warning signs of Bipolar Disorder? Nearly six million Americans are affected by Bipolar Disorder, also known as manic depression. Characterized by dramatic mood swings between opposite poles of mania (or hypomania) and depression, this disorder can result in reckless behavior, damaged relationships, debilitating depression and thoughts of death or suicide. While mood swings don't NECESSARILY mean Bipolar Disorder, behavioral extremes such as talking incessantly, excessive overconfidence and promiscuity, or fatigue, despair and withdrawal MAY be strong indicators of the illness. Similarly, when a person's mood seems to change from feeling on top of the world and loving life one moment, to feeling completely worthless and detached the next, Bipolar Disorder MAY be the culprit. These intense up and down mood swings are called "episodes," and a person with Bipolar Disorder may experience extreme changes in emotional state, energy levels, and sleeping and eating patterns, depending on whether they're in a manic or hypomanic episode, or experiencing a depressive episode. Warning signs of bipolar mania may include: rapid, virtually non-stop speech, with the person jumping suddenly from one thought to another. Irrational anger and irritability, extreme arrogance, inflated self-esteem, unrealistic goals, difficulty concentrating and a significantly decreased need for sleep may also signal mania. Other, more serious signs of mania typically involve extravagant spending and alcohol or drug abuse, as well as impulsive acts such as gambling, stealing, or inappropriate and risky sexual behavior. Signs of severe mania may be even more serious-and obvious-including delusions that can range from feeling invincible or godlike, to hearing voices. Sufferers may also believe they're the victim of a conspiracy, or have a special connection with a celebrity or political figure. In contrast, signs of hypomania, a milder, less severe form of mania, may not be so easy to identify because it may often be overlooked as simply an outgoing, energetic and optimistic personality. A person experiencing hypomania may also be highly productive and creative. These characteristics often result in hypomania appearing as a pleasant state, rather than a problem. However, studies show hypomania can also result in severe agitation, anger and irritability, and may evolve into mania or even serious depression. Warning signs of Bipolar Disorder also include depression symptoms, such as persistent sadness, hopelessness, pessimism, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, withdrawal from friends and family, decreased energy, anger, irritability, changes in eating or sleeping habits, and preoccupation with death or suicide. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the signs and symptoms described here, please see a mental health professional.More »
Last Modified: 2013-10-01 | Tags »
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Mania is an abnormally elated mental state which can quickly spiral out of control. To know what happens during a manic episode, watch our video.
Transcript: Bipolar Disorder is a complex mood disorder characterized by dramatic mood swings between poles of mania...
Bipolar Disorder is a complex mood disorder characterized by dramatic mood swings between poles of mania and depression. But what exactly is mania and what are the symptoms? Mania is an abnormally elated mental state that's characteristic of Bipolar Disorder, typified by extreme exhilaration, energy and euphoria. However, mania can quickly spiral out of control, resulting in anger, irritability and aggression, as well as impulsive and reckless behavior. The hallmark symptoms of mania involve an unusually elevated euphoric or expansive mood with markedly increased energy and decreased need for sleep, along with loud, excessive and rapid talkativeness, with the person jumping suddenly from one thought to another. Another mania symptom is "racing thoughts," which involve unwanted and often unrelated thoughts or memories that may include past conversations, song lyrics, parts of television shows or movies, or random repetitive phrases that sufferers are powerless to stop. Constant restlessness, being easily distracted, having difficulty concentrating and an inability to make decisions are also typical symptoms of mania. Grandiose behavior is another common mania symptom; sufferers may develop unrealistic self-confidence and extreme arrogance. They may feel and act virtually invincible, as they make their extravagant plans and incessantly pursue unfeasible goals. While manic symptoms may often include charming and charismatic behavior, it's not uncommon for this behavior, with its accompanying sense of well-being and positive energy, to suddenly change to hostility and aggression that may include verbal or physical assaults. Impulsive behavior, typically with no regard for consequences, is also a symptom of mania. For example, a person may suddenly decide to quit a job, go on a spending spree, gamble away their savings, indulge in substance abuse or drive recklessly. This tendency toward involvement in potentially dangerous activities may also combine with heightened sexual desire, which is also a common symptom of mania, and may result in risky or inappropriate sexual behavior. When mania becomes severe, a person may suffer psychotic symptoms that reflect their extreme mood. Sufferers may hear voices or believe themselves to be famous, the victim of a conspiracy, possess extraordinary powers, or have a special connection with a celebrity or political figure. Some people with Bipolar Disorder have symptoms of hypomania, a milder and less severe form of mania. Hypomania symptoms include euphoria, along with increased energy, activity and productivity levels. Other hallmarks of hypomania may include, to lesser degrees, the often reckless and impulsive behavior characteristic of mania, like promiscuity, careless spending, overestimating their capabilities, along with plenty of plans, but little follow-through. It can be challenging to identify symptoms of hypomania, because they may be perceived as traits of an outgoing, energetic or optimistic personality. Hypomania symptoms can escalate to symptoms of full mania. Unlike mania, however, hypomania has no psychotic symptoms. Some sufferers experience mixed states in which symptoms of mania or hypomania and depression occur simultaneously, resulting in agitation, insomnia, appetite changes, psychosis and suicidal thoughts. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the symptoms described here, please see a mental health professional.More »
Last Modified: 2013-11-22 | Tags »
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