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Bipolar Affective Disorder


It is a mood disorder characterized by pathological mood swings from mania to depression, with a tendency of the two kinds of mood to recur and subside spontaneously. At one time, either the manic or the depressive episodes can predominate and produce few mood swings, or cyclic patterns of mood swings may occur. Mania is an exaggerated feeling of well-being characterized by elation, hyperactivity, increased involvement in activities, inflated self-esteem, a tendency to be easily distracted and sleeplessness. The manic episodes may last from several days to months. Depressive phase involves sluggishness or inertia, loss of self-esteem, withdrawal, sadness, and suicidal tendency. Some people experience rapid changes in their mood several times a day, known as rapid cyclers. The disorder appears between the ages of 15 and 25 and affects men and women equally.

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The cause of this disorder is unknown, but hereditary and psychological factors may play some role. The incidence is higher in relatives of people with bipolar disorders.

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Signs & Symptoms

The main signs of Bipolar disorder are alternating mania or depression, where one emotional tone may predominate; there is little or no observable change in mood or mood is inappropriate for the situation.

The symptoms of depressive phase are loss of self-esteem- withdrawal- feelings of helplessness or worthlessness- excessive or inappropriate guilt- fatigue (tiredness or weariness) lasting for weeks to months- overwhelming sluggishness (inertia)- persistent daytime sleepiness- insomnia- difficulty concentrating, easily distracted by inconsequential event(s)- loss of appetite- weight loss (unintentional)- abnormal thoughts about death- thoughts about suicide, plans to commit suicide, or suicide attempt(s)- diminished interest in daily activities- diminished pleasure in daily activities- memory loss (amnesia) episode.

In the manic phase, the following symptoms are seen- elevated mood- increased activities- flight of ideas or racing thoughts- inflated self-esteem- decreased need for sleep- agitation- more talkative than usual or pressure to keep talking- increased purposeless activity (e.g., pacing, hand wringing)- extreme restlessness- weight gain (unintentional)- poor temper control- excessively irresponsible behavior pattern.

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Psychotherapy and Medication Psychotherapy

Successful treatment of bipolar disorder depends on a combination of factors. Medication alone cannot cure the condition. In order to get the most out of treatment, its important to educate the patient as well his relatives about the illness, communicate with psychiatrists and therapists, establishing a strong support system, making healthy lifestyle choices, and sticking to the recommended treatment plan.

A proper diagnosis is the first step to an effective treatment. This involves a proper psychological evauation and examination of medical and physical history of the patient. Then, it is followed by relevant medication, depending on the severity of the disease. The goal is to treat the symptoms, which can involve the usage of drugs like Corticosteroids, Antidepressants, Antianxiety drugs, Drugs for Parkinson’s disease, Vitamin B12 deficiency and Neurological disorders (e.g. epilepsy, multiple sclerosis).

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