The Truth About Bipolar Disorder And What You Can Do About It

Chapter 1: Understanding Bipolar

Most individuals that suffer from bipolar have one simple goal. That goal is to live a life that is as normal as can be. To get through today without having any emotional problems, to make it through the big meeting at work without having people wonder what is wrong with you and to simply be able to enjoy your daughter’s graduation are all additional goals that you may have.

Before you can fully learn to cope with bipolar, you need to fully understand your condition. You need to know what things happen, as best that you can, so that you can then trigger your coping mechanisms to work for you. There is no 100 percent sure way of stopping these things from happening to you. But, there are countless things you can learn to do to help you to improve your outlook.

To get to that point, we will start by giving you all of the information you need about your condition so that you can better understand what is happening to you. If you are a family member who just wants to help someone that has bipolar, then, by all means, you too can learn all that you need to in order to deliver the help that you can give to them.

Bipolar: The Medical Side
Bipolar is a condition in which there are extremes in moods and life experiences. There is no doubt that bipolar is a health condition that is serious and disabling to those that have it. It is a mental illness and it does require necessary treatment.

You may have heard bipolar called Manic Depression or that a person suffering from it has a manic depressive condition. But, what scientists have come to learn is that manic style behavior is only one extreme of this condition. The other part of it is that of depression. Both of these conditions are vitally serious to your well being and even to your lifespan and must be treated.

While doctors do not have a cause for bipolar, they are working on finding one. Along with that, you can be sure that there are many scientists looking for a way to cure the condition. Yet, until that happens, we need to examine what we do know about bipolar and what it does to the person that you are. For most people, bipolar starts when they are just in their teens. Some believe that it is triggered by puberty. Others will not develop this condition until they are in their early adult years. Bipolar can last your lifetime, too.

For most individuals, bipolar is a condition that doesn’t happen all of the time. You don’t go in and out of moods ore other experiences within seconds and you don’t do this all of the time either. For example, some people will have bouts that last for several weeks. Others will have them for a few months at a time. Although it is possible to have bipolar in which your symptoms flare all of the time, this is really the rare case.

If you don’t get help for bipolar, your condition is likely to continue to worsen. There is no doubt that depression itself is a killer. Therefore, not getting help is simply not an option. But, the good news is that there are medications, treatments, and therapies that can help to reduce the symptoms and help you to cope with your condition.

Do You Have Bipolar?
The first question that you need to ask is if you have this condition. Learning the signs and symptoms will help you to weigh the need to seek out medical attention. If any of your symptoms are severe or you are considering harming yourself, you must seek immediate medical attention as soon as possible.

Bipolar individuals will go through an alternating pattern of highs and lows that play on their emotions. The highs are called episodes of mania. The lows are episodes of depression. The intensity of these highs and lows will vary from person to person and from one episode to the next. For some, the symptoms can be quite mild but for others, they can be quite severe. In addition to this, you may also have very normal times too.

During the manic phase, there are a number of symptoms that can be observed.

• You may feel extremely happy and optimistic. You may feel euphoria. You may also have an inflated self-esteem or ego, too.

• You may have very poor judgment, and you may know this by being told by others that you’ve made the wrong decision.

• Your speech can be very fast. Your mind is going crazy with thoughts. You may be agitated and feel the need to move your body and your mind. Physical activity may be increased, too.

• Many will be aggressive in their behavior, often more so than is “allowable.”

• Some people find this to be a time of problems with sleeping, problems with concentrating on what you should be doing. You may be easily distracted, and have problems getting tasks accomplished.

• You can be reckless or you may take chances on things that you normally would not do. Those that suffer from the mania side of bipolar will transition from it into the depressive side. The depressive side is that which people often associated with depression-like symptoms. These symptoms can include the following, more than one, too.

The depressive bipolar symptoms include:

• Feeling very sad, very guilty or feeling that all is lost. Hopelessness is a common feeling here too. The trademark of a problem is that the symptom is unfounded and is persistent.

• You may be very tired, often not caring about getting your tasks accomplished. You may lose interest in the things that you do daily, normally. Even those things that you love to do may not be done.

• You may be very irritable, losing your temper for no real reason.

• You may not be able to sleep although you are tired. You may not be hungry and some will lose weight because of not eating properly here.

• Some have problems with pain, too. If you have pain that there is no real cause for, this can be a sign of depressive behavior.

• The most serious of all symptoms and signs of depressive behavior is that of thoughts of suicide. If you have these thoughts, your condition needs immediate attention.

If you think that you have any of these symptoms, then you need to work with your doctor to be diagnosed. It is necessary to get treatment and treatment really can help you!

What’s The Cause?

The one thing that all bipolar patients want to know is why. Why did this happen to me? Why do I go through this? Why can’t my life be normal?

Unfortunately, there just is not an answer to that. Neither doctors nor scientists understand why or what causes bipolar to happen. But, they have some ideas of what could be behind the way you feel. Most believe that it is a combination of factors that lead to this condition including environmental, genetics, and biological factors. Doctors believe that these conditions not only cause the onset of bipolar in people but also control when the episodes that you experience happen and how frequently they do.

Those that have bipolar have problems within the brain. There are chemical messengers in your brain that go between the nerve cells and the brain itself relaying information. These are called neurotransmitters.

In those that have bipolar, those messengers are somehow different and simply communicate in a different way to the brain triggering the symptoms that you face. It is believed that those that suffer from bipolar have a genetic code that puts them in that position. While this genetic disposition doesn’t per say actually trigger the condition to happen, those that have this coding actually have a better chance of developing it at some point in their lives.

This difference in the neurotransmitters is believed to have to do with an abnormal aspect of the genes. Your genes that control the neurotransmitters in your brain simply developed abnormally, leading to bipolar. But, remember, just because this is the case, it doesn’t mean that you are going to suffer from bipolar. It just means that it is something that you could experience.

In addition to this genetic code, most doctors believe that it is necessary for you to have some environmental effects to happen in order to trigger the problem. This can include such things as drug abuse and very stressful events. Sometimes, a very traumatic event especially those that are psychological can trigger bipolar.

Are You At Risk?

You may be at risk for bipolar if you have a family history of bipolar or other depressive conditions. In fact, in up to 90 percent of those with bipolar, there is evidence of depression in the family. Again, if you have genes that are passed down from those in your family that have these abnormalities, then you are more likely to experience bipolar. While the exact genes are not known just yet, there are many researchers working on finding the gene that makes you more or less likely to have bipolar disorder.

Should You Go To The Doctor?
If you are reading this far into this book, then you probably realize the importance of seeking medical attention for your condition. The problem is that most that have symptoms of bipolar don’t realize that they do have a problem. Some will realize that something is not right but most will not realize just how impaired they are. In addition, most don’t realize just how troublesome going through these mood swings can be for other family members. You probably don’t realize what you are putting your family and friends through.

Therefore, it often takes someone else, such as your spouse, friend or other relatives to help you to get to the doctor so that you can be diagnosed for your own safety and health. Those that are concerned about their loved ones should seek the help that they need. Professional help can be quite beneficial to those that are suffering. If a person that is suffering from bipolar does not seek out and get the help that he or she needs, not only will stresses continue to build, but physical problems can also become evident. They can be hurt in one of their episodes.

Who Should I See?

If you realize the need to seek professional help, your first contact should be your family doctor. He or she can help you to determine that there are no other medical problems causing your condition. From here, though, the person to see is that of a psychiatrist. Do not worry; the process of seeking help in dealing with any type of mental illness including depression and the bipolar syndrome is quite simple to do. Take a loved one with you that have noticed the symptoms that you are experiencing. The first thing that your doctor will ask is what type of symptoms you are having. He or she will ask you to describe both the depressive symptoms and the mania symptoms.

During your first meeting with the doctor, you’ll talk about your daily life, the episodes you are experiencing and your overall health. The first thing that he or she will do is work on ruling out other medical problems and other mental health problems. Other conditions, such as mood disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, and even a personality disorder, can have similar symptoms to bipolar conditions.

Your doctor may also ask you to undergo tests that will determine if there are any other things that causing your condition. He or she will want to find out if you have physical causes to your bipolar disorder (or the likely diagnosis of this.) This can include talking about substance abuse. Your doctor will ask and need an honest opinion about this. If you drink alcohol, use illegal drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, then you need to tell your doctor about these things. Remember, your doctor can’t talk about this with anyone else.

These types of drugs can alter the mood and in some people create larger fluctuations of moods. Another possible reason for your mood swings can be due to health problems like thyroid disorders. Here, a blood test will be required. It will test how well your thyroid is working. Many that have mood swings actually have an underactive thyroid. The good news is that if this is the problem, there are medications that can treat thyroid problems. Still, there is more to talk about with your doctor. You’ll want to tell him about the medications that you are taking, as these can also cause a number of mood swings. For example, medications like corticosteroids including prednisone can cause mood swings. If you are being treated for depression with medications, or for anxiety, then your medication can lead to mood swings. The medications that are used to treat Parkinson’s disease are also mood swing prone medications.

Your doctor will ask you about your diet, too. The foods you eat lead to the number of nutrients that you get. Those that are lacking in B 12 vitamins, in particular, can experience vast mood swings. Any of these types of conditions can lead your doctor to determine that you are suffering from bipolar disorder. By talking with you and looking at the test results that are given to you, your doctor can determine exactly what is happening with you.

It is very important for you to communicate with your doctor about any of your needs and to be honest about your condition. By telling them about your daily life, including the bad parts, he or she can make the right decisions to help treat your conditions. It is likely that you will find your doctor is quite experienced in bipolar disorder. That’s because every year thousands of people see their doctors with worry about having this disorder. It is not as uncommon as you may think! Once this has been done, your doctor and you can work on a treatment for your condition.

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Lesson Intro Video

(Next Lesson) Chapter 2: BiPolar Treatment
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