Mixed Bipolar Disorder

2013 Bipolar Update

Understanding Mixed Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that is little understood. It presents itself as a condition whereby the victims suffer from bouts of moods from both poles of mental stability, that is, mania and depression. In mixed bipolar disorder, the two phases occur at once or in quick succession. The mania phase is normally characterized by positive effects. It may manifest itself as an increase in energy, euphoria (heightened state of mind), uninhibition and a reduced need for sleep. The depressive state is characterized by feelings of irritability, agitation, anger, insomnia, low self esteem and in extreme cases contemplation of suicide. Anyone can suffer from mixed bipolar disorder but mainly it first manifests itself between the ages of 20 and 35.

Causes

The actual cause of mixed bipolar disorder is not known. Many factors have been suggested as the causes and predisposing factors. One likely cause is an imbalance in the chemicals (neurotransmitters) that control brain activity. Sometimes periods of emotional stress as well as some medications have been found to trigger the condition. There is also the genetic factor whereby if a member of the family has suffered from the condition, other family members are also likely to suffer the condition. This means there could also be an environmental issue.

Symptoms

Sufferers of mixed bipolar disorder experience what is referred to as mixed manic episodes. This means that they experience both manic and depressive thoughts and feelings at the same time. In the manic phase the patient is irritable, overactive, experiences racing thoughts and generally behaves as if high on drugs. In the depressive phase, the patient will be sad, lack energy, have difficulty sleeping, be full of thoughts of worthlessness and take no pleasure in any activity, no matter how pleasurable.

Diagnosis

Identifying the condition is the first step towards controlling mixed bipolar disorder. The diagnosis is made based on the symptoms and signs being exhibited by the patient as there are no blood tests or X-rays that can detect the disease. The process of diagnosis begins with ruling out other conditions that exhibit the same symptoms. The frequency of the manic-depressive episodes is also a guide in the diagnosis of the condition. If for a period of two weeks a person exhibits at least four of the symptoms of mania and depression, then they are likely to be suffering from mixed bipolar disorder.

There is no cure for mixed bipolar disorder and treatment revolves around managing the mood swings and attending counseling sessions with a therapist. Getting the right medication is a difficult process and one may have to try several combinations until the right combination is reached. Strong support systems from family and friends can go a long way in ensuring sufferers lead productive and stable lives.

Although a bipolar disorder is a serious condition that must be treated, an individual can lead a normal life if they will only continue on their medication and follow their doctor's orders.

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