The Highs And Lows Of Having Bipolar Mental Health Disorder

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All of us experience times when we are sad and feeling down, and times when we feel happy and excited about life and this is perfectly normal. However, when these highs and lows are extreme, then it could be an indication of bipolar mental health disorder, which is also sometimes referred to as manic depression.

What is Bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme changes in mood and behaviour where the sufferer experiences episodes of mania followed by episodes of depression, in other words ‘highs’ and ‘lows’.

Many people who have Bipolar disorder are also highly intelligent and extremely creative, even gifted. However, the disorder can also wreck lives and can sometimes result in suicide.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can range from very mild to extremely severe, everyone’s experience will be different. However, most people with Bipolar find that their symptoms follow a pattern and depending on that pattern will fall into one of the following different types of bipolar disorder.

•    Bipolar 1 – Mood swings with episodes of depression and extreme mania
•    Bipolar 2 – Mood swings with episodes of depression and milder mania
•    Cyclothymic Bipolar – Mild mood swings
•    Mixed Bipolar – involves episodes of both depression and mania occurring simultaneously
•    Rapid Cycling Bipolar – where there are four or more episodes of depression and mania occurring within a 12 month period.

What happens during the’ highs’ and ‘lows’?

During episodes of mania the individual may feel capable of tackling anything, can be extremely optimistic about their abilities and have an inflated idea of their own importance and power.

During these so called “highs” the bipolar sufferer may find they need very little sleep, have an increase in energy, are hypersexual, restless, and easily distracted. There may be psychosis too.

They can also be highly creative with many brilliant ideas. A person going through a manic phase may have racing thoughts and talk very fast, sometimes incoherently, and might become frustrated when others can’t keep up with them.

On the other hand they can show bizarre behaviour, poor judgement and decision making skills which can mean impulsive and extravagant spending, grandiose thinking, wild adventures, and inappropriate actions. Feelings of euphoria, excitement and extreme optimism are common.

In complete contrast, during a depressive episode the individual may feel sad and hopeless, guilty, tired, unable to concentrate, may lose their appetite be unable to sleep or function, and feel like their life is not worth living. There is a higher risk of suicide during a depressive episode.

How is Bipolar disorder treated?

Treatment for bipolar will usually consist of mood stabilising drugs, anti psychotics if psychosis is present, and sometimes anticonvulsants. Psychological therapies have also proved effective for many sufferers, particularly with helping them to cope with their illness on a daily basis.

The essential Omega 3 fatty acid Eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA has also been gaining increasing recognition for being effective at helping to alleviate the symptoms of bipolar disorder and research studies are continuing to highlight the benefit that EPA can have not just for bipolar disorder but for other mental health problems too.

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3 Comments

  1. scott armstrong
    Posted February 2, 2010 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    This is the second time i have visited this site and i guess i’m going over what is now old ground but i would just like to thank you all again whoever you are for helping me, i have now been diagnosed as a bi-polar sufferer (i don’t like that term but i had already wrote it and felt i should leave it there to remind me that i don’t have to be a “sufferer” any more) for years i have been visiting my doctor and by the time i’ve got to see him i have got over my depressed state and gone “manic” therefore i have either been so confident that i thought i no longer needed help and that it’s just life or i have simply not known how to explain myself, after what i now realise has been sixteen years i have finally found the words to explain myself to my g.p. i know it sounds silly to be relieved by the news that i have the illness but it is such a relief to know what is wrong and how to get help i can’t thank you enough.I can now start to rebuild my life knowing my weaknesses and boundaries and that i am not just being a whinger thank you so much from the bottom of my heart this is not bad news far from it !! at least i can rebuild my life around it if that makes any sense i am seriously thinking about starting a college course and getting on with my life with my new found awareness that i am not a bad person and i deserve to be happy just like everyone else i truly know where i stand with things now, not totally but there is light at the end of the tunnel, thank you, thank you, thank you!! i know i’m babbling but i don’t feel i have anything to hide right now thank you again ten times more !!!xxxx

  2. karen kennedy
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    im confused about my depression, am not sure if im beeing treated properly. i do have bouts were i am high but i have been having bouts were im low, tired, paranoid, los of confidents, and i also withdraw into myself. i have been like this since i was a child, i never understood myself untill i met my husband, i am beeing treated for depression with medication, i am just managing to keep my job. i am happy with my children an my family but i cant seem to pull myself up. i havent felt suicidel for a few months. but i am confussed to how i do feel, i will keep reading this sight and hope to get to the bottom of this. i am lucky more than most because my husband is very supportive, i dont know were i would be without him thank you for this sight !!!!!!

  3. Someone concerned
    Posted December 28, 2011 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    I am writing tonight because I have been experiencing drastic mood swings and it’s really starting to effect me. I have been with the most amazing man for 7 years as of tomorrow and over the last few years I have become extremely easily irritated by anything he does, or what some other people do, or I will try to pick a fight when I feel an itch.

    On my good days I am extremely horny, always hungry, and feel on top of the world. On my bad days every little thing can trigger a sour mood or even make me cry. I have never really thought about if I was bi-polar or depressed, but I need help with this.

    My brothers are both A.D.D. and one has a slight personality disorder with bi-polar. I am the oldest and never really showed any sort of signs that I might be bi-polar or anything early on. I am A.D.H.D. without medication, and I am not sure if maybe that’s what this is going on… but I know in my heart I need to see a doctor.

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