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What is Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder go through mood and emotional changes that are very different from their usual mood and behavior. These changes affect their lives and lives of people around them on a day-to-day basis.

These mood changes can be intense ( will be described later on) to mild. All that one needs to remember and understand is that to say that one has bipolar disorder , one needs to have a single episode of “mania” or “hypomania” in their life. Yes, just a single episode.

What is mania or hypomania, we will be describing them in coming days.

Testing for bipolar disorder isn’t as simple as taking a multiple choice test or sending blood to the lab. While bipolar disorder does show distinct symptoms, only an expert can diagnose bipolar disorder. Often, a combination of methods are used to make a diagnosis. A every day citizen cannot and should not diagnose someone as having bipolar disorder.

One needs to understand the exact diagnostic criteria and because there are several different types and only a trained psychiatrist or a psychologist can diagnose.

What exactly are the symptoms, we will be discussing in the coming days

What to do before diagnosis

Before you do self diagnosis or  diagnose someone near or dear to you , one should look for  rapidly changing moods and confusing emotions. It can be hard to describe exactly how one feel, but one would get to know that something isn’t right.

Bouts of sadness and hopelessness can become intense. It can feel as if you’re drowning in despair one moment, and then later on, you’re optimistic and full of energy.

Low emotional periods aren’t uncommon from time to time. Many people deal with these periods due to everyday stresses. However, emotional highs and lows associated with bipolar disorder can be more extreme. You may notice a change in your behavior, yet you’re powerless to help yourself. Friends and family may also notice changes. If you’re experiencing manic symptoms, you may not see the need to get help from a doctor. You may feel great and not understand the concerns of those around you until your mood shifts again.

Don’t ignore how you feel. See a doctor if extreme moods interfere with daily life or if you feel suicidal.

Mental health evaluation

A psychiatrist or psychologist will ask you questions to assess your overall mental health. Testing for bipolar disorder involves questions about symptoms: how long they’ve occurred, and how they may disrupt your life. The specialist will also ask you about certain risk factors for bipolar. This includes questions about family medical history and any history of drug abuse.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that’s known for its periods of both mania and depression. The diagnosis for bipolar disorder requires at least  one manic or hypomanic episode in a person’s life. Please keep in mind that without a manic or hypomanic episode, one cannot be diagnosed as having bipolar disorder.

You or your dear one might have depression or not. For that matter a person might have many depressive episodes but unless there is an episode of mania or hypomania, one cannot be diagnosed.

Only a trained mental health specialist can diagnose this illness. So here I would like to advice you that if you are suspecting yourself or your dear one, please go to a trained psychiatrist who gives time to you or to a trained clinical psychologist.

There are certain questions to be asked and those only a trained psychiatrist or a psychologist can ask and come with diagnosis.

Your mental health specialist will ask about your thoughts and feelings during and after these episodes. They’ll want to know if you feel in control during the mania and how long the episodes last. They might ask your permission to ask friends and family about your behavior. Any diagnosis will take into account other aspects of your medical history and medications you’ve taken.

To be exact with a diagnosis, doctors use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM provides a technical and detailed description of bipolar disorder. Here’s a breakdown of some of the terms and symptoms used to diagnose the condition.

Mania

The DSM defines mania as a “distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood.” The episode must last at least a week. The mood must have at least three of the following symptoms or four if the mood is irritable

  • Increased energy
  • high self-esteem
  • little need for sleep
  • increased rate of speech (talking fast)
  • flight of ideas
  • getting easily distracted
  • an increased interest in goals or activities
  • psychomotor agitation (pacing, hand wringing, etc.)
  • increased pursuit of activities with a high risk of danger
  • These symptoms should interfere with social or occupational activities or might require the patient to be hospitalized.

Hypomania

The DSM defines mania as a “distinct period of abnormally and persistently elevated, expansive, or irritable mood or irritable mood and abnormally high energy level. The episode must last at least 4 consecutive days and must be present most of the day nearly every day. The mood must have at least three of the following symptoms or four if the mood is irritable

  • Increased energy
  • high self-esteem
  • little need for sleep
  • increased rate of speech (talking fast)
  • flight of ideas
  • getting easily distracted
  • an increased interest in goals or activities
  • psychomotor agitation (pacing, hand wringing, etc.)
  • increased pursuit of activities with a high risk of danger
However in hypomania, the mood disturbance does not interfere with social, occupational or interpersonal activities.

We will be providing you with more info in the coming days.
#faisalmamsa

Depression

The DSM states that a major depressive episodemust have at least four of the following symptoms. They should be new or suddenly worse, and must last for at least two weeks:

  • changes in appetite or weight, sleep, or psychomotor activity
  • decreased energy
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • trouble thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • thoughts of death or suicidal plans or attempts

Suicide prevention

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

Dr F. Mamsa MD