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Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Posted on July 31, 2013

Understanding Bipolar Disorder with Amy Adelman, LPC of South Central Behavioral Health Services

Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder wherein the person can experience 2 opposing polarities of moods: depression and mania. Depression is more familiar to us, but in bipolar disorder it can be extreme – patients may have a hard time simply getting up or finding any relief from the dark feelings. Mania is not only increased energy, but energy that becomes destructive where the patient cannot stop talking in a loud voice, cannot sleep, and may take part in self and other destructive behaviors. A third term, hypomania, refers to manic symptoms that are below the intensity of a full mania. Depression, mania, and hypomania occur in a continuum of moods. More than 5.7 million American adults or 2.6 percent of the population age 18 or older in any given year have bipolar disorder. The condition typically starts in late adolescence or early adulthood, although it can show up in children and in older adults.

Behavioral Health ClinicAmy Adelman, Licensed Professional Counselor with South Central Behavioral Health Services in Laurel, said, “Some people who suffer from bipolar disorder can work and function as spouses and parents. Some patients have a harder time functioning. The ability to function can be episodic; one can function better at one time more than at another time. The disorder can be diagnosed in early adulthood and can be treated with both psychotropic medications and psychotherapy.” It will affect the family and can create disorder in its more extreme forms. Persons who suffer from bipolar disorder need stable surroundings and structure in their lives. “Regular sleep, an absence of mind-altering substances, and self-monitoring are essential,” Adelman said.

What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder causes repeated mood swings, or episodes, that can make someone feel very high (mania) or very low (depressive). Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Increased energy, activity, restlessness
  • Poor concentration
  • Euphoric mood
  • Difficulty remembering or making decisions
  • Racing thoughts, fast talking, jumping between ideas
  • Sleeplessness or sleeping too much.
  • Heightened sense of self-importance
  • Spending sprees
  • Denial that anything is wrong
  • Sad, anxious or empty-feeling mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness and pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
  • Decreased energy, fatigue
  • Change in appetite, unintended weight loss or gain
  • Bodily symptoms not caused by physical illness or injury
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Adelman concluded by saying, “Suicide has traditionally been a concern in bipolar patients, but with the advent of new medications and new therapies, we are seeing a decrease in bipolar related suicides. Non-compliance with treatment can also be a problem. But the future looks brighter as we now understand more about this disorder than we did in the past, and understand the importance of a team approach – patient, family, and treatment professionals.”

For more information, call South Central Behavioral Health Services in Laurel at 601.426.9614.