2013 Bipolar Update
Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that has two main types: Bipolar Type I and Bipolar Type II. A person with Bipolar I has had one or more manic episodes in their life which severely disrupted their ability to function in a normal manner.
The main difference between bipolar I and II is that type II is generally less severe. Individuals with bipolar I display psychotic symptoms of paranoia and hallucinations which do not occur in type II. Both type I and II must be diagnosed by a medical doctor in order to rule out any other mental disorder or physical illness that may present similar symptoms.
Type I can also present mixed episodes, meaning both manic and depressive symptoms. The manic symptoms include: being hyper-energetic, easily distracted, needing minimal sleep, speaking extremely fast while changing topics frequently, having grandiose ideas about their abilities, and engaging in risky behavior such as reckless sexual relations or uncontrolled spending. The depressive symptoms include: lacking energy, irritability, unusual weight gain or loss, lack of interest in normal activities, sleeping a lot, melancholy and suicidal tendencies.
Almost anybody can develop bipolar I, although the earliest symptoms usually appear in teen years or early twenties. Research has shown a hereditary link whereby a person from a family with a bipolar parent has a higher risk of getting it as well.
The primary treatment for type I is long-term medication which works to control the manic-depressive symptoms and episodes. These medications include Lithium, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anticonvulsants and antipsychotic medications among others. Usually a series of drugs is required and combinations vary from individual to individual.
For some people it may take a while to find the right drugs or they may experience unpleasant side effects. However, eventually the doctor will create the right combination of medications and dosage to control the mood episodes while keeping the side effects to a minimum.
The medical plan presented by the doctor should be followed diligently and it’s highly inadvisable for the patient to stop the medication without consulting the doctor first. If this occurs, the likelihood of a relapse is quite high. However, once a suitable plan is found, if the patient will only follow the doctor's orders they should be able to carry on a reasonably normal life.
People taking medication for bipolar I experience better results when they use other non-medical treatments such as therapy, healthy living and better stress-management strategies in conjunction with their medication. A person’s mood can be very much improved by exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, performing relaxation techniques, and cultivating positive attitudes and relationships.
Therapy – both individual and group sessions – gives a better understanding of the illness, the causative factors and how to deal with them. Furthermore, therapy offers crucial support that helps the patient function in a normal manner in their personal and professional life.
By following their medication plan carefully, continuing with therapy and engaging in a healthy lifestyle, the frequency and severity of the manic-depressive episodes can be controlled and greatly reduced. There’s no reason why a person with Bipolar I cannot lead a normal lifestyle if they will only take their medication as prescribed.
Our website has a wealth of information and can keep you informed and give you up to date information on bipolar disorders so be sure and read some of our other articles.