What is bipolar disorder?Bipolar disorder used to be referred to as manic depression. This condition causes extreme changes in mood that include "highs and lows." The "highs" usually manifest as manic, and a depressed mood represents the "lows." Individuals with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings that interfere with their daily functioning.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?Individuals who live with bipolar disorder may experience any of the following:
Mania and hypomania
Major depressive episodes
Feelings of melancholy
What causes bipolar disorder?Bipolar disorder is often hereditary, meaning it runs in families. Certain genes make individuals more likely to end up with a bipolar disorder diagnosis, but many genes are involved, meaning no one gene is linked to bipolar disorder. Some risk factors can make a bipolar disorder diagnosis more likely, including an immediate family member with bipolar disorder, drug or alcohol abuse, and stressful or traumatic events. Researchers have also found that the brain structure of individuals with bipolar disorder is different from that of people who do not. As research develops, doctors can better understand the brain structure's role in diagnosis, helping them better guide treatment.
How do you treat bipolar disorder?Bipolar disorder is commonly treated with medications and psychotherapy, but some other treatments may also be used. Finding a mediation regime that works well for bipolar disorder often takes trial and error and should always be guided by a trained physician. Medications commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics. Lithium is a commonly prescribed antipsychotic that can help reduce the risk of suicide and reduce the severity of mood episodes when they occur. Psychotherapy is often used in combination with medications to help treat bipolar disorder. Therapy offers support and education and can help those with bipolar disorder understand and process some of their feelings.
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