Bipolar Disorder, previously know as “manic-depression”, has been known to be a difficult and sometimes scary diagnosis. Patients generally were not diagnosed until ten years of “treatment” had passed. Medications were limited and came with difficult side effects. Today, the prognosis is greatly improved. Several effective medications are now available to treat the disorder. Heightened awareness of the spectrum and variety of symptoms is leading to a greater number of people being treated, and many more being diagnosed at much earlier in the course of the illness than in the past.
Though patient compliance remains problematic, the disorder itself can be very treatable. Consistent work with a knowledgeable psychiatrist and therapist; compliance with prescribed medication and lab tests; and lifestyle adjustments can lead to a fairly stable state. I believe bipolar disorder can be treated and yet still allow patients to retain the positive qualities sometimes experienced by bipolar patients such as creativity, charisma, higher energy levels, and an ability to multi-task or think “out of the box”. It’s as if some of the problems of bipolar disorder, when under treatment, can become positive features. Though patients sometimes believe medication will change or remove the “positive” features they experienced, the opposite is true. The use of medication will minimize “negative” symptoms and allow the controlled use of some beneficial attributes.
The following are some of the symptoms for mania and depression.
A persistent elevated, expansive or irritable mood lasting 1 week which may include some of the following:
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
- Decreased need for sleep
- More talkative than usual
- Flight of ideas or racing thoughts
- Increase in goal-directed activity
- Excessive involvement in pleasurable activity.
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day
- Diminished interest or pleasure in most of daily activities, nearly every day
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or change in appetite
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate or indecisiveness
- Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal thoughts without a plan, or a suicide attempt or specific plan for committing suicide.
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