GOOD SAMARITAN: Bipolar Disorder: Up one day, down the next

By Charmaine Caldwell, PhD, LPC-S

Almost 6 million American adults suffer from bipolar disorder, this does not count the children and young adults who also suffer. This disorder is more than mood swings. It is a serious, life affecting, mental disorder. Diagnosing this disorder can be difficult and is often misdiagnosed. There has yet to be found a cure for this disorder; however, it is encouraging to know that the symptoms can be managed.

No one knows beyond a doubt what causes bipolar disorder. While some studies suggest there is a genetic component present, most researchers agree there are likely brain and environmental factors that contribute as well. Some scientists believe the stress hormone cortisol plays a role. This hormone causes alterations in how the brain functions and communicates.

Symptoms of the mania phase can include decreased need for sleep, talking excessively, racing thoughts, being easily distracted, experiencing physical agitation and relentless movement, increased sexual desire, impulsive risky behaviors, grandiosity or inappropriate behavior, irritability, hostility, or aggression.

Depression symptoms can include crying for no reason, prolonged periods of sadness, feelings of guilt or hopelessness; loss of interest in activities that usually give pleasure; extreme fatigue, including the inability to get out of bed; loss of interest in your health, nutrition, or physical appearance; difficulty concentrating or remembering things; sleeping excessively or difficulty sleeping, and suicidal thoughts or an impulse to self-harm.

People with bipolar disorder respond better to treatment if they have the support of friends and loved ones. Treatment can include medication and talk therapy. Finding the best combination of meds that work for each person can be difficult. So, a person needs to be prepared to give the selection and dosage of medicine a proper amount of time to be worked out. For the best possible outcome, a person should live a healthy lifestyle including regular exercise, proper nutrition, and avoidance of alcohol.

It is very important to remember that bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, requiring regular monitoring and treatment. One must be consistent with their care.

Samaritan is available if you or a loved one needs help, call our office at 432-563-4144.