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About Bipolars Disease

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Bipolar Disease


What is unipolar illness? When the mood is just depressed. This is far more common than bipolar illness.

What is bipolar disease? Bipolar disorders (manic-depressive illness) are marked by periods of manic, greatly elated moods or excited states as well as by periods of depression. Although the manic-depressive psychosis may alternate from one of its phases to the other, one or the other phase is usually dominant for a while. Depression is more often dominant than mania. Manic-depressive patients often recover spontaneously for periods of time, but relapses are fairly common. Most often this disease is genetic. Bipolar is a severe mental disorder. There are 2 types of the bipolar diseases: Bipolar 1 & bipolar 2.

Bipolar 1- person experiences at least one, and usually many more, manic episodes, alternating with episodes of major depression

Bipolar 2- the individual experiences periods of hypomania alternating with episodes of major depression.

What is cyclothymia? Similar to bipolar disorder since it is characterized by mood swings from mania to depression. However, there are several important differences between the two. A person with cyclothymia experiences symptoms of hypomania but never a full-blown hypomanic episode. A person with cyclothymia is never symptom-free for longer than two months.

The Affective Spectrum- Some people who have bipolar disorder (manic depression) or unipolar disorder (depression-only) have co-existing conditions such as migraines, attention deficit disorder, fibromyalgia, eating disorders, etc

The following have been identified (so far) as part of the medical spectrum, which may accompany affective disorders:

* attention deficit disorder (ADD & ADHD)

* body dysmorphic disorder

* cataplexy

* eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia, binging)

* fibromyalgia (includes chronic fatigue)

* impulse-control disorders

* irritable bowel syndrome

* kleptomania

* migraine/severe headache

* narcolepsy

* intermittent explosive disorder

* pathological gambling

* pyromania

* personality disorders

* post traumatic stress disorder

* substance abuse and addiction (includes alcoholism)

* obsessive-compulsive disorder

* panic disorder

* Tourette's disorder

* anxiety disorders

* autism



Increased energy- Decreased Sleep, Little Fatigue, an Increase in Activities, and Restlessness.

Speech disruptions- Rapid Speech and Incoherent Speech

Impaired judgment- Lack of Insight, Inappropriate Humor and Behavior, Impulsive Behavior, Financial Extravagance, and Grandiose Thinking.

Changes in thought patterns- Irritability, Excitability, Hostility, and Feelings of Exhilaration

Changes in Perception- Inflated Self-Esteem, Hallucinations, Paranoia, and Increased Religious Activities

Depression- Changes in Activity- Decreased Energy, Fatigue, Lethargy, Diminished Activity, Insomnia or Hypersomnia, Loss of Interest in Pleasurable Activities, and Social Withdrawal

Physical Changes- Unexplained Aches and Pains, Weight Loss or Gain, Decreased or Increased Appetite, and Psychomotor Agitation or Retardation

Emotional Pain- Prolonged Sadness, Unexplained, Uncontrollable Crying, Feelings of Guilt, Feelings of Worthlessness, Loss of Self-Esteem, Despair, Hopelessness, and Helplessness

Difficult Moods- Irritability, Anger, Worry/Anxiety, Pessimism, Indifference, and Self-Critical Changes in Thought Patterns- Inability to Concentrate, Indecision, Problems with Memory, Disorganized

Preoccupation with Death- Thoughts of Death, Suicidal Ideation, Feeling Dead or Detached


Psychotherapy- psychotherapy is indicated to help the person deal with the effects of the illness in his or her life, to work on coping with the stresses that can trigger episodes, or to help individuals who have psychological difficulties when their moods are stable. Family therapy can help all family members learn about the illness and deal with it better as a family.

For Acute Mania- This may require hospitalization to protect the individual or others from impulsiveness. Lithium is generally the drug used to stabilize the person. The response to lithium usually takes a few days. If the individual is experiencing psychotic symptoms, antipsychotics (e.g. haloperidol) are usually given. Anticonvulsant drugs such as Carbamazepine (Tegretol) can also be used.

For Acute Depression- Lithium can be given and is very effective. Antidepressants may also be prescribed to the patient.

Cyclothymia- Therapy is used in most cases. In severe cyclothymia, lithium will be prescribed.

In general- Lithium is given and really decreases the manic and depressive attacks in about 70% the patients. The person must be tested to monitor potential side effects and to be certain the person is taking the medication.

To treat acute episodes of mania and depression and to prevent relapse, doctors often use medications.

Common Drugs:

Lamotrigine (Lamictal)- Mood Stabilizer / Anticonvulsant

Lithium- Mood Stabilizer

Oxycarbazepine (Trileptal)- Mood Stabilizer / Anticonvulsant




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