Are you Bipolar? The symptoms and treatment of Bipolar Disorder and how you can help yourself

Wondering if you could have bipolar? Is  your mood up one minute and down the next? It is quite normal to have mood swings from time to time.

You may feel happy when life is treating you well and low when you are going through a difficult time.

However, if you have bipolar disorder, the mood swings are far more intense, with a much greater effect on your social, emotional and occupational functioning.

As complex as this disorder is, with treatment and lifestyle changes, it is possible to live a balanced life.

Read on to find out what Feelgood Health can do to help YOU cope with Bipolar Disorder and mood swings.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, (which used to be called manic depression) is a psychiatric disorder which causes extreme mood swings,ranging from emotional highs (mania or hypomania) to depressive lows.

A person experiencing an emotional high may feel excited, euphoric, impulsive, very energetic, have racing thoughts and talk faster and louder.

During this manic state, the person is likely to engage in risky or unhealthy behaviour and often do things without thinking about the consequence. For example, the person may go on huge spending sprees, have impulsive sex or do drugs. The person may also feel a warped sense of self-importance and that he or she is better than other people.

When the mood changes, the person may become depressed and feel sad, hopeless, lose interest in things he or she once enjoyed, sleep too little or too much and even have suicidal thoughts or tendencies.
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Types of bipolar disorder

There are different types of bipolar disorders and these include:

• Bipolar 1 Disorder

People with bipolar 1 disorder experience at least one manic episode which may be followed by major depressive episodes. Their behaviour will go from extreme elation and then quickly spiral out of control.

Symptoms are severe and can also be dangerous. It is common in both men and women, with men often experiencing mania first and women, major depression first. In many cases, if left untreated the person may need to be hospitalised.
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• Bipolar 11 Disorder

With bipolar 11 disorder, people experience less manic symptoms and instead major depression which lasts about two weeks. They will experience at least one episode of hypomania instead of mania.

Hypomania usually lasts about four days. During an episode of hypomania, the person will be highly energetic, excitable and impulsive.

While the mood is unpredictable, it is not as extreme as mania. It tends to be more common in women with an increase in the number of depressive episodes.
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• Cyclothymic Disorder

This type of bipolar disorder is milder than full-blown bipolar 1 and 11. The symptoms are not as severe as hypomanic and major depressive episodes.
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• Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder

In rapid cycling bipolar disorder, the person experiences mood changes quickly. The person may have four or more episodes of mania, hypomania, major depression or mixed symptoms in one year.

In some cases, people with this disorder experience more than one episode in a day or a week.

In most forms of bipolar disorder, moods alternate between elevated and depressed over time. But with mixed bipolar disorder, a person experiences both mania and depression  in rapid sequence.
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What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder can include the following symptoms:

Bipolar Mania

1. Feeling euphoric, excited and on a high for long periods of time
2. Racing thoughts and talking very fast and loudly
3. Being impulsive, very restless and fidgety
4. Feeling agitated and tense
5. Poor judgement
6. Feelings of exaggerated self-confidence and unrealistic in one’s powers and capabilities
7. Engaging in reckless and risky behaviour, such as going on huge shopping sprees, impulsive sex and doing drugs
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Bipolar Depression

1. Feeling depressed, sad and hopeless for long periods of time
2. Withdrawal from interaction with friends and family and loss of interest in hobbies and activities that once were found enjoyable
3. Feeling extremely tired all the time, sleeping too little or more than usual and lacking energy
4. Severe loss of appetite or increase in appetite
5. Difficulties concentration, memory and decision making
6. Think and speak slowly
7. Suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide, or being preoccupied with death   
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How to get help and treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Many people may have bipolar disorder and not even be aware of it. This disorder often goes undiagnosed or may not even be diagnosed properly.

When people are feeling low or depressed, they often don’t seek help. If they do, they may be treated for depression and not bipolar disorder. Because this is a very complex disorder, your medical professional will have to be very thorough in his or her evaluation.

If a family member recognises bipolar signs in you, take him or her with you to give your doctormore insight into your behaviour.

There are many symptoms that have to be ruled out first as well as many conditions such as anxiety disorders or ADHD that go hand in hand  or may need to be distinguished from Bipolar Disorder .

A professional mental health evaluation is very important to make sure that the correct diagnosis is made as this will determine the appropriate treatment.
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Conventional treatment

Bipolar Disorder can be very difficult to treat due to the fact that people with Bipolar Disorder often feel very good during their manic stages and therefore tend to refuse medication during this time - meaning that they are without help when they most need it.

Treatment for bipolar is usually managed by a registered psychiatrist who may work closely with your GP or psychologist.

As Bipolar Disorder is caused by a chemical imbalance, it is usually treated with a combination of counselling and psychiatric drugs. Medication such lithium is prescribed that helps to even out the mood in combination with regular psychotherapy sessions.

It is imperative that treatment is ongoing for the person to lead a healthy life.
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Natural Remedies for Bipolar Disorder

Psychiatric drugs for Bipolar Disorder often come with unwanted side effects and many people diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder look for natural alternatives to conventional drug treatment.

All decisions regarding medical treatment must be made by weighing up the benefits and disadvantages of treatment before making a decision.

In the case of Bipolar Disorder, the consequences of not using prescription psychiatric drugs may be severe and one should never stop prescribed medication for Bipolar Disorder without consulting your prescribing doctor and initiating a well-monitored and professionally assisted treatment change.

This is especially important because diminished judgement may be a symptom of this psychiatric illness and a professional or objected opinion is always a good idea when making any changes.

In many cases, people with Bipolar Disorder are able to use selected herbal or homeopathic remedies along with their prescription drugs. This can help to achieve a reduced dosage or minimise the need for the prescription drugs, thereby reducing the negative side effects while still maintaining stability. 
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Living with bipolar disorder

People with Bipolar Disorder are often very creative and energetic individuals, as well as high achievers, who do not want to dampen their creativity and energy levels with medication. At the same time, it is important to maintain balance in order to avoid burnout and risking a bipolar breakdown.

Managing and controlling bipolar disorder is hard work, but it is possible. People diagnosed with this condition have to be prepared to put in the effort if they want to live a relatively normal life.

While taking medication is a must, there are other lifestyle changes that can also help to make a significant difference in managing this disorder.

Reduce stress levels by taking up meditation, yoga, Thai Chi, practicing deep breathing exercises, listening to soothing music, going for long walks or having a relaxing massage.

Exercise regularly to work off pent up energy and emotions and keep your mood stable and balanced.

Get plenty sleep which is an important component of managing mood and emotions. If you are struggling to fall sleep, take Serenite Plus, a natural remedy which helps to induce drowsiness.

Use herbal PureCalm Drops by Feelgood Health to relieve anxiety, stress and tension when you are feeling overwhelmed

People with Bipolar disorder often look for natural and safe remedies that can be taken together with their medication.

Choose MindSoothe, a 100% homeopathic remedy which relieves mood swings, uncharacteristic behavior and agitation, as well as anger outbursts. This remedy has been proven to safely reduce extreme emotional highs. MindSoothe helps the body and mind to transition back into equilibrium naturally.

Coping with Bipolar disorder is challenging but by paying attention to the warning signs and getting treatment as early as possible will help to make the difference. 
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