The word bipolar is used by some people in a teasing tone, calling them “crazy.” Having bipolar disorder, however, is no laughing matter. It can make you feel like your mind is fighting against you at every turn. Your moods change without any apparent reason and you have no way to predict when that change may occur. When you have untreated bipolar disorder, it not only takes a toll on your psychological health but also on your relationships and even physical health. Having bipolar disorder is a lot more than simply changing moods.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a chemical imbalance in your brain that exhibits itself with extreme mood swings that have you very high and energetic or very low. You may stay in one mood or the other for weeks at a time, or you may change moods several times a day. It isn’t the duration of time between mood swings that is the most important, it is the extremes of the swings that characterize the disorder the most.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
There are two stages of bipolar disorder. The upward swing is called mania and the lower swing depression. Each extreme has its own set of symptoms and each has its own set of dangerous consequences.
Mania is characterized by:
- Racing thoughts
- The feeling of crawling out of your skin
Depression is characterized by:
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Suicidal thoughts/actions
During the mania stage, you may feel like you can accomplish anything and everything. Risky behavior seems perfectly acceptable and you may find yourself in debt, the hospital or jail when you come down from the manic cycle because of your lack of control. With the depressive stage, suicidal thought may appear and even be acted upon.
Why Seek Treatment?
Not only do you have the risks mentioned above but you also face driving away friends and family, getting into fights, wearing your immune system down and feeling like you are losing your mind. Going from one extreme to another wears on both your body and mind. In addition to all this, bipolar disorder works on what is called the kindling effect. Just as a fire grows with each handful of kindling you add to it, each episode you have with bipolar disorder is stronger and each cycle between swings is quicker. The cycle needs to be broken before you end up in a seriously dangerous situation.
How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
There is no physical test for bipolar disorder yet. The bipolar treatment center will perform a thorough evaluation of you. They will check to see if there is a physical cause for your symptoms first. You may be given psychological tests and a thorough medical history will be taken. The doctor will have you describe your symptoms, decide if there is a pattern and will diagnose you by ruling out what things he can. He will then determine if your symptoms meet the criteria for bipolar disorder and determine the type.
What are Bipolar Treatment Options?
The options for bipolar treatment will vary depending on your particular circumstances. Treatment plans are designed for your individual needs and there are no one-size-fits-all treatment plans. Depending on where you are in regards to severity of symptoms and how the disorder exhibits itself in your life, you may have one or a combination of several treatments including:
- Group counseling
Will I Be Cured?
There is not yet any cure for bipolar disorder, although one day there may be. After leaving the treatment center for bipolar disorder, you will be able to better control your mood swings with medication and you will have learned ways to minimize the chances of rapidly-changing mood extremes. You may even be able to tell in advance when things aren’t working as they should be. This will allow you to seek out either outpatient or inpatient bipolar treatment. As long as you stay on your medication, you will have a much more productive life and be able to function in life, but you will always have bipolar disorder.
An End to the Storm
Having bipolar disorder is like being tossed around endlessly on a storm sea. One minute you are riding high on the crest of a gigantic wave and the next you are hitting the ocean floor. Both extremes can leave you feeling panic because you don’t know how far you will go or how long it will last. A bipolar disorder treatment center will help you calm that sea so that you sail steadily ahead. You know you may be some time getting to land, but you will get there safely.