Understanding Bipolar Disorder

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a category of several mood disorders that is characterized by the presence or display of bouts of abnormally elevated mood. Bipolar disorder is not just a single disorder as some people might believe. The type of disorder would depend on the type of mood that a sufferer experiences when having such episodes.

The term bipolar disorder is the current name being used to refer also to the different episodes of high and low mood swings that sufferers are known to go through. It has replaced the older term manic-depressive illness as first offered by Emil Kraepelinin the late 19th century. The change was instituted in order to avoid the stigma that the older term seems to bring with it to the public.

On set of this disorder usually occurs during the young adult years. Bipolar disorders may sometimes be hard to diagnose since it mostly depends on the patient’s own reported experiences.

This disorder is known as a cyclic illness where sufferers display extreme moods periodically. At one time, a person may suddenly experience an elevated mood swing while at times exhibit a depressive mood.

Some people with bipolar disorders may experience a number of these episodes in a span of a year and may last from three to six months. Sometimes a person may only experience a single mood episode in a year.

Major courses of bipolar disorders

There are also other people who may exhibit rapid cycling. It is defined as a person with bipolar disorder having four or more episodes in a span of a year. This is associated with a worse prognosis a a greater disability to sufferers since it can bring about confusion and more difficulty in the patient being able to establish a stable mood state. People with bipolar disorders usually goes through four major courses:

Major Depressive Episode – A major depressive episode is characterized by severe and persistent depression that is physically manifested by lack of appetite, laziness, chronic fatigue and insomnia. Is such episodes, the sufferer may have higher suicidal tendencies than usual.

Manic Episode – A manic episode is characterized by a period of elevated or irritable mood state in a person. In this situation, sufferers may experience some sense of increased energy and a decreased need for sleep. The person’s attention span become slow and can get easily distracted.

Hypomania Episode – This episode is the less extreme than the state of mania and people undergoing this episode may experience fewer symptoms of mania such as uncontrollable bouts of laughter even though there is nothing that funny.

Mixed Affective Episode – A mixed state is an episode where symptoms of mania and depression occur almost at the same time or period. In bipolar disorder, it might be seen in a person having bouts of anxiety, irritability, impulsiveness, panic, confusion, restlessness and other symptoms associated with both mania and depression.