Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. A person’s mood and emotions can be altered drastically due to bipolar disorder, but they do not have more than one personality. Split personalities problem is more commonly seen in those with personality/dissociative disorders.
There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.
The disorder has two strong phases: 1) Bipolar Mania and 2) Depression.
Mania is a state of heightened energy and euphoria - an elevation of mood. It is in direct contrast to depression. Mania can vary in severity from hypomania, where, in addition to mood and energy elevation, the person shows mild impairment of judgement and insight, to severe mania with delusions and a level of manic excitement that can be so exhausting that hospitalisation is required to control the episode.
The mood, energy and other related symptoms define both mania and hypomania, with psychotic features being an 'add on' component experienced by a sub-set of individuals.
You have an intense sense of well-being, energy and optimism. It can be so strong that it affects your thinking and judgement. You may believe strange things about yourself, make bad decisions, and behave in embarrassing, harmful and - occasionally - dangerous ways.
Like depression, it can make it difficult or impossible to deal with day-to-day life. Mania can badly affect both, your relationships and work. When it isn't so extreme, it is called 'hypomania'. In case a person has become maniac, you may notice the following things:
If you are in the middle of a manic episode for the first time, you may not realise that there is anything wrong, although your friends, family or colleagues will. You may even feel annoyed if someone tries to point this out to you. You increasingly lose touch with day-to-day issues and with other people's feelings.
The feeling of depression is something we all experience from time to time. It can even help us to recognise and deal with problems in our lives. In clinical depression or bipolar disorder, the feeling of depression is much worse. It goes on for longer and makes it difficult or impossible to deal with the normal things of life. If you become depressed, you will notice some of these changes:
Initial Treatment: The initial treatment method is to take medications to balance and control the mood swings. After the symptoms are in control, one has to start working with his/her trusted doctor for chalking out an effective and practical long-term treatment procedure.
Recovery from substance abuse: Problems related to excessive alcohol and drug abuse are solved by this therapy. Failing this step, this disorder can be unmanageable.
Day care treatment: Day care treatment programs can be recommended by your doctor. This treatment method includes counseling and support which keep the bipolar traits under control.
Hospitalization: Hospitalization or immediate medical support is recommended in case of suicidal thoughts or when a person starts exhibiting erratic behavior (being psychotic).
Medications: Medications include the administration of antipsychotics (such as ziprasidone, olanzapine), antidepressants (usually in combination with a mood stabilizer or an anti-psychotic), mood stabilizers (such as valproic acid, lithium, divalproex sodium) and anti-anxiety medications. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a psychiatrist and ask a free question.