Does My Loved One Have a Bipolar Disorder?

Most people have experienced what we call a "mood swing" more than once in their lifetime. It is normal for human emotions to vary and change, especially during different stages in a person's life and development. However, for approximately 2.6% of the adult population in the United States, a more serious issue is taking place: bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder, also referred to as manic-depressive illness, is typically diagnosed in early adulthood at around 25 years old. Characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, activity level, energy, and ability to carry out everyday tasks, the symptoms of this brain disorder can have devastating repercussions in a person's life. Untreated, the symptoms of bipolar disorder can lead to damaged relationships, ruined careers and even suicide. Bipolar disorder symptoms may look like separate unrelated events, often making it difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
In general, if a person is having manic and/or depressive symptoms, nearly every day, all day for up to two weeks, they may be in the midst of a bipolar episode. Symptoms fall into two general categories: manic or depressive. 

Manic symptoms may consist of mood changes that might include:

  • extended period of feeling "high" or extremely happy
  • extended periods of agitation or irritability

Behavioral changes can include:

  • fast talking, skipping from one idea to the next
  • insomnia
  • easily distracted
  • increased goal directed activities
  • impulsiveness
  • risk-taking behaviors

Depressive symptoms might include:

  • extended duration of sadness, loneliness, or feeling worried
  • loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
  • feeling tired or slowed down
  • inability to make decisions
  • change in eating habits
  • thoughts of suicide

Bipolar disorder is a serious illness that can be treated if properly diagnosed. People can live healthy, productive lives if the disorder is managed with medications and care. While bipolar disorder does run in families, most children of parents with bipolar disorder will not develop the disease. If you or a loved one are concerned about symptoms which might be indicative of bipolar disorder, the most important thing you can do is to seek treatment. A correct diagnosis is critical, followed by proper care and support.

You can find these services at Brandon Regional Hospital, where our Behavioral Health Center offers state of the art, multidisciplinary care that is  compassionate and private. If you or a loved one believe that immediate care is needed, please call (813) 653-1065 and a healthcare professional will assess your situation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For additional health information or a physician referral, call our Consult-A-Nurse service at 1-888-327-2636.


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