Bipolar Disorder

Many of our most famous Artists, Writers, Great Minds, Musicians and even Successful Business People in the world are Bipolar and live normal, happy, healthy lives.    Knowing how to identify and manage symptoms and get the proper help is all that’s needed to make sure you can be the happiest you can be.

What is Bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a highly stigmatized, but highly treatable disorder.  Many people fail to recognize their need of treatment, and are most often deemed “difficult” or “withdrawn”, or “moody”.  Bipolar disorder is basically a mood disorder which, in milder forms, may not affect your life whatsoever. However, many people find that their lives become more manageable with treatment.  Others may have severe symptoms that can be a great risk to their very lives if they do not get their symptoms under control.

Some of the signs to watch for:

Manic behavior examples:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Poor Judgment
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Euphoria or feeling immortal
  • Unusual or unrealistic optimism
  • Extremely high energy
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Hyper-sexual, or high risk sexual behavior
  • Engaging in life risking behavior
  • Irritability or extreme agitation
  • Change in amount of sleep needed
  • Delusional thoughts, or thoughts of grandeur (God like behavior)
  • Dangerous use of substances such as drugs and/or alcohol

On the converse, once those types of behaviors wear out, you may “crash” physically or emotionally, and you may experience the other side of the extreme, the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder:

Depressive Symptom Examples:

  • Feeling sad, or suicidal
  • Feeling drained, worn out or exhausted
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Feeling fatigued, or sick or in pain with no real cause
  • Problems with focus or concentration
  • Anxious, or easily irritated
  • Having many absences from school or work
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Feeling helpless, hopeless

Why get help? Can I control bipolar symptoms on my own?

Couple smilingIf you or a loved one are exhibiting signs of Bipolar disorder, it’s very important to seek treatment, which can ally more serious repercussions from the more destructive behaviors sometimes created by bipolar disorder. Although some people find themselves enjoying a higher level of functioning during mania, and deem themselves more energetic and creative at those times, bipolar mania oftentimes causes consequences, such as an emotional crash that can leave a person feeling drained, depressed and fatigued, or even in trouble with the law, or their family, or cause severe financial crisis, all of which can be hard to bounce back from.  It’s important to educate yourself about any form of bipolar you are diagnosed with.  Severe stress in life oftentimes will cause heavy mood-swings, as well as do many persons with the more extreme bipolar ailments find that their emotional swings have a highly problematic effect on their partners, children and/or friendships.  Knowing those signs, and knowing to get help to manage such problems is key to living a happier healthier life with bipolar disorder.

Are there different levels of bipolar?  How do I know which one I have?

Only a mental health professional can determine if you have bipolar disorder, and which type of the disorder you have.  There are several types, and your doctor can help determine which you may be exhibiting:

  1. Bipolar I – often has episodes of severe mood swings or changes that can go from mania to depression
  2. Bi Polar II – the milder form of bipolar, which can have less frequent and less severe mood swings or changes
  3. Cyclothymic disorder – very mild mood swings or changes
  4. Mixed Bipolar:  This often times has both extremes happening at the same time, depression and mania.
  5. Rapid cycling Bipolar:  This is usually indicated when you experience changes in mood or mood swings more often.

My child goes from giggling to crying in a manner of minutes.  Her teacher wants her evaluated for problems, and mentioned bipolar disorder.  Can a child be bipolar?

Changing sleep habits, explosive outbursts, crying, and high risk behavior are often indicators a child may need to be evaluated to diagnose or rule out mental illness as a cause. Schools around the country are compelled by law to evaluate children for learning disabilities that affect their ability to learn.

Mental illness of any sort cannot be determined within a school environment, but still may have a great impact on your child’s ability to learn.  Resources that are available local mental health agencies can help you maneuver what options best fit for your child’s need to be seen by a mental health professional. They have the ability to screen your child’s needs in a manner that schools and the internet are not equipped to handle.  Please see the FYMPS resources section for further details on how to locate your local mental health office.

Bipolar disorders and addiction:

It’s fairly common for those in the severe bipolar category to engage in high risk behavior.  Commonly, Bi Polar in any of the forms it manifests in can be masked or exacerbated by other problems, like alcoholism, sex addiction, drug addiction, or other mental illnesses (co-morbidity is the medical term you may hear used, which is basically a fancy way of saying more than one ailment).

It’s important to note that “self medicating” is a frequent means used by those with mental illness to treat their own ailment.  For instance, those with an episode involving racing thoughts might seek a substance that helps slow their mind down; those with sleep problems might perhaps turn to alcohol to treat themselves.  Sometimes this is done innocently, not realizing it can create long term problems, but it’s important to realize that the underlying ailment can be treated by a professional.  Mental health intervention to help treat any underlying mental illness often allows the person to be more successful at getting any destructive behavior under control.

My friend is always talking about suicide. She was diagnosed as bipolar and takes medications, but still feels helpless and sad.  I’m no doctor, so what can I do?

Suicide is a worry in some people with bipolar disorder, and if anyone you know is talking in a suicidal manner, or you yourself feel you are considering suicide, it is important for you to stop reading this immediately and call 911 or the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-TALK or (800) 273-8255  It’s important to understand that you cannot help without assistance from professionals.

I’m afraid to go for help!  What if I’m committed?  What if I’m told I have a problem that I really don’t want to face?

One of the more frightening things to people who seek mental health is to wonder who will find out.  Another is the fear of being committed against your will.  These are both unrealistic fears that cause many to refuse to seek help and instead, suffer in silence.  In the absence of help for any difficulties you’re having, you cannot change your life to make it better.  More and more, celebrities and public figures are being forthright with their own treatment of mental illness, and it’s important to realize that, just because there are quite a few stigmas out there, mental illness is not so different than getting help if you have a physical need of seeing a doctor.  Mental illness can range from routine to severe, and it’s important to look after your mental health just as you’d feel comfortable looking out for your physical health.

A good suggestion, if you are reluctant to seek treatment, is to talk to family or friends or trusted people such as a member of the clergy, or make an anonymous call to the department of mental health and explain your situation, and how you’re feeling.  Although it is sometimes hard, there are many advantages to treatment that you owe it to your life to find.  There are many success stories out there, and taking that first step is the hardest.

It’s always advised, if you feel you or a loved one is displaying behavior that concerns you, to seek medical intervention from a trained mental health official.  We have links on our resources tab here on this site you can check out as well.

What are other healthy options?

Science is proving that a holistic approach does help when you combine the proper nutrition, exercise, therapy, social  support and any medications if needed to reduce or completely get rid of symptoms.Think of it as a “prescription” for your overall health.  You need to include all of these other pieces to get the very best results to lead a happy, healthier life.

How do I find help?

We have a resources section with select links on this website. Click here to go there now.  The main thing to do is to find a professional doctor that can work with you to properly make a diagnosis and see how they can help.

For friends or family members that want to help a loved one, getting them to a doctor is the first order of business to get professional input.  We also recommend  contacting your local NAMI chapters for classes and meetings to get educated on how you can understand and help better.

Learn More

We would like to thank the Staglin family and their never-ending efforts to find a cure for all brain disorders and their contribution to the articles below. Especially their son Brandon who is the inspiration for his parents, Garen and Shari to find cures within the next decade.  Also thanks to Dr. Descartes Li for his input on ways that science is making strides in finding cures.

We thank and applaud Brandon and his family for their tireless work to help so many others and to find a cure.

If you are interested in finding out more, or donating your time or money to the Staglin family’s cause, please visit their site

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