of having a disorder like bipolar, is for one, receiving the
proper diagnosis early on. Bipolar is not a physiologically
identifiable disease, for instance through a blood test or CAT
scan cannot identify it. So, diagnosis of the said disorder
is done through symptoms and being that the spectrum of symptoms
is so broad this makes diagnosis a difficult task. The diagnostic
criteria for bipolar disorder are described in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, fourth edition
|Mania can include
any of the following symptoms: increased energy, activity, and
restlessness, excessively "high," overly good, and
euphoric moods. The individual may become extremely irritable,
have racing thoughts and begin talking very fast. The individual
may not being able to concentrate, little sleep needed, unrealistic
beliefs about one's abilities and powers, poor judgment, going
on spending sprees, an increased sexual drive, aggressive behavior,
denial that anything is wrong. Possible drug abuse, in particularly
cocaine, alcohol and/or sleeping medications may be utilized.
A manic episode is diagnosed if elevated mood occurs with three
or more of the other symptoms most of the day, nearly every
day, for 1 week or longer. If the mood is irritable, four additional
symptoms must be present. (More symptoms are listed in the section
A mild to moderate level of mania is referred to as hypomania.
Hypomania may feel good to the person who experiences it and
may even be associated with good functioning and enhanced productivity.
Thus even when family and friends learn to recognize the mood
swings as possible bipolar disorder, the person may deny that
anything is wrong. Without proper treatment, however, hypomania
can become severe mania in some people or can switch into depression.
Many individuals with bipolar disorder become suicidal. Risk
for suicide usually appears early on in the illness, which is
one of the reasons why recognizing bipolar disorder early on
is important- to avoid all the danger possible. Anyone who is
thinking about committing suicide should receive attention preferably
from a mental health professional or a physician. If someone
begins talking about suicide they should be monitored and taken
Signs or symptoms of suicide include: talking about wanting
to die, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, feeling like
a burden to family or friends, abusing substances such as alcohol
or drugs, making what could be considered final preparations
such as giving things away or organizing finances, writing a
suicide note, or purposefully putting oneself in harm's way.
Anyone feeling suicidal should immediately contact someone like
a doctor, or 911. If you know of someone who is suicidal do
not leave them alone and make sure they receive help as soon
as possible. Furthermore, limit their access to harmful substances
or weapons. It is important to for the individual experiencing
these feelings or desires as well as their loved ones, that
the symptoms of creating these suicidal desires can be treated.
An individual experiencing bipolar disorder will typically
have episodes of mania or depression that recur across their
lifespan. A good majority of people with bipolar disorder
are symptom free, but as many as one-third of people have
some residual symptoms. There is a small percentage of people
experience chronic unremitting symptoms despite treatment.
There are several different forms of this disorder:
Bipolar I disorder is considered to be the classic
form of the illness and involves recurrent episodes of mania
Bipolar II disorder is characterized by never developing
severe mania but having less severe hypomania that alternates
Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder is when an individual
has four or more episodes of the illness within a 12-month
period. People can experience multiple episodes within the
same week or eve the same day. This form of the illness tends
to develop with progression of the disease and is more common
Both children and adolescents can develop bipolar disorder.
It is more likely to affect the children of parents who have
the illness. Unlike many adults with bipolar disorder, whose
episodes tend to be more clearly defined, children and young
adolescents with the illness often experience very fast mood
swings between depression and mania many times within a day.
Children with mania are more likely to be irritable and prone
to destructive tantrums than to be overly happy and elated.
Mixed symptoms also are common in youths with bipolar disorder.
Older adolescents who develop the illness may have more classic,
adult-type episodes and symptoms.