What exactly is it, its symptoms, and what happens after? Get a quick overview with this 2-minute read.
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder (or manic-depressive illness) is a long-term brain disorder that causes huge shifts in mood, energy and activity levels. This means that at one moment, the patient can feel extremely depressed and lose interest in doing everything, and in another moment, he or she can suddenly feel euphoric and full of energy. These mood episodes are severe, and can happen a few times a year, or even a few times a day. It hinders the day-to-day tasks of the individual and is greatly disruptive.
What are the symptoms?
During a ‘down’ or depressive mood episode, patients will feel sad or hopeless and lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed, such as sex. Feeling tired, restless, and not being able to concentrate is also common, as well as suicidal thoughts. During an ‘up’ or maniac episode, patients will feel ‘high’ or overly happy, but are also easily irritated and distracted. Restlessness is common, and they will often talk very quickly, jumping from one topic to another. Feeling full of energy is common, and in turn, patients will sleep very little and might even impulsively engage in high-risk activities.
What are the treatment options?
Bipolar disorder cannot be cured, but can be effectively managed, usually through long-term treatment that includes a combination of medication (e.g. mood stabilisers) and psychotherapy. The aim is to help patients gain control over their mood swings and other symptoms, so that it causes less disruption to their daily activities.
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