Almost six million adults have some form of bipolar disorder. There are actually three different types of bipolar diagnoses. First, Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by extreme manic episodes that alternate with periods of depression. Second, Bipolar II Disorder is characterized by major depressive episodes with hypomania. Third, the Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) diagnosis is used when the patient exhibits irregular symptoms, undefined patterns and abnormal episodes.
People who feel depressed will be less interested in being with close friends and doing things that they usually enjoy. They may experience sleep problems, intense anxiety, chronic fatigue and random tears. They may experience physical aches and phantom pains. People who are depressed will probably neglect certain tasks and accomplish less at work and home. They are usually forgetful, lack focus and struggle to organize themselves. They will most likely withdraw from social interaction, avoid making phone calls and evade social functions.
Rapid cycling is when bipolar people experience multiple lows and highs throughout the week, month or year. A rapid cycler who experiences several mood shifts throughout the day may experience fluctuating attitudes, energy levels and interaction sensitivity. This is very hard to handle because it’s exhausting and frustrating. This person may suddenly feel depressed, so they may become sad, teary and avoid people. Rapid cycling feels like the mind is playing tricks. The person may feel scared and confused with their moods change so quickly and abruptly.
A bipolar person may unexpectedly feel mental, emotional or physical stress and sensitivity. They may become quite dramatic because they are in pain and agitated. This could last a few days or a few weeks. Some of these people may experience alternating manic and depressed episodes that quickly change. They could end up in a full-blown depression episode that doesn’t go away for weeks. During this time, the person may squander money, damage relationships, shun responsibilities, ignore physical health and experience problems at work.
Some people who are bipolar may also suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). During the summer they may experience normalcy with mild mania that can actually be quite enjoyable. During the nice weather, they may feel full of life and on top of the world, but once winter hits, they may experience drastic depressive episodes. People who suffer from SAD will experience symptoms like fatigue, avoidance and hopelessness. They will socially withdraw and avoid external activities like shopping, exercising and going to the movies. However, light therapy and talk therapy are quite useful in alleviating symptoms.
Sometimes depression will be triggered by events, people and perceived failure. This could be anything from processed food to negative people to anxiety-provoking situations. People who experience depression often experience cognitive malfunctioning that overplays, over exaggerates and over stimulates the person. For example, a family emergency will naturally cause stress, but certain people may experience intense, sudden fear, confusion and helplessness. These people may be very sensitive when communicating with others because they fear bad news and reactions.
Fortunately, bipolar disorder can be successfully treated through simultaneous techniques. Bipolar people should work with an experienced psychiatrist who can closely monitor and reduce medication levels in favor of traditional methods like visualization, lifestyle changes, group support and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).