You hear it more and more often: bipolar disorder. Maybe in your circle of acquaintances, in the news, or your favorite medical series. But what exactly is bipolar disorder? And is it as common as you think? The answer is: yes. Almost 6 million Americans are suffering, making this a common (mental) health condition. Everyone can develop bipolar disorder and not treating it can lead to serious complications for yourself and also your surroundings. Therefore, it is important to educate yourself. Learn about the symptoms and what follow-up steps to take next.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Now we know that everyone can get bipolar disorder it’s good to know what it means and does to your mental health. Bipolar disorder – also known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression – is a chronic disorder that causes your moods, energy, thinking patterns, and behavior to shift immensely. In other words, you can shift from severe depressive feelings within a certain period to complete euphoria. These shifts can happen within hours, days, or weeks. These mood changes are called (hypo)manic and depressive episodes. This does not mean that a person with bipolar disorder is only in a depressive or manic state. There are also periods of the normal state and these are called euthymia.
Unfortunately, there is no specific cause of why someone is suffering from bipolar disorder. Medical research does know that genetics and the way it develops can play a role in developing this mental health issue. Other big risk factors are going through trauma or high stress, and substance abuse.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
When someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he or she will be diagnosed with a specific type. These types include:
- Bipolar I disorder
- Bipolar II disorder
- Cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia)
- Other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders
People diagnosed with the first type experience one or more manic and depressive episodes. Do know a depressive episode isn’t necessary to get this diagnosis? When someone is experiencing a manic episode for 7 days or more, or if the episode is so severe that he or she should be hospitalized, bipolar I disorder can be diagnosed. Bipolar II disorder means that someone is suffering from depressive and hypomanic episodes and never experience a full manic episode. Hypomanic episodes are less severe than manic episodes. Depressive episodes are chronic and worse in bipolar II, which makes this the more debilitating type. People with cyclothymia experience hypomania and mild depression episode over two years and have short periods of euthymia. The last type is a category for people who don’t fit the criteria over the 3 other categories but experience the same symptoms. Continue reading on the next page and find out how you can recognize this mental disorder.