Why I want you to know about bipolar disorder
According to NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness, “Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood, energy and ability to think clearly. People with bipolar have high and low moods, known as mania and depression, which differ from the typical ups and downs most people experience,” NAMI said. If left untreated, the symptoms usually get worse. However, with a strong lifestyle that includes self-management and a good treatment plan, many people live well with the condition. With mania, people may feel extremely irritable or euphoric. People living with bipolar may experience several extremes in the shape of agitation, sleeplessness and talkativeness or sadness and hopelessness. They may also have extreme pleasure-seeking or risk-taking behaviors.
“People’s symptoms and the severity of their mania or depression vary widely. Although bipolar disorder can occur at any point in life, the average age of onset is 25. Every year, 2.9% of the U.S. population is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, with nearly 83% of cases being classified as severe,” according to NAMI. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally.
“Symptoms A person with bipolar disorder may have distinct manic or depressed states. A person with mixed episodes experiences both extremes simultaneously or in rapid sequence. Severe bipolar episodes of mania or depression may also include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions.
“Usually, these psychotic symptoms mirror a person’s extreme mood. Someone who is manic might believe he has special powers and may display risky behavior. Someone who is depressed might feel hopeless, helpless and be unable to perform normal tasks.
“People with bipolar disorder who have psychotic symptoms may be wrongly diagnosed as having schizophrenia. Mania. To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person must have experienced mania or hypomania. Hypomania is a milder form of mania that doesn’t include psychotic episodes.
“Depression produces a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that inhibit a person’s ability to function nearly every day for a period of at least two weeks,” NAMI reports.
“The level of depression can range from severe to moderate to mild low mood, which is called dysthymia when it is chronic. The lows of bipolar depression are often so debilitating that people may be unable to get out of bed.
“Typically, depressed people have difficulty falling and staying asleep, but some sleep far more than usual. When people are depressed, even minor decisions such as what to have for dinner can be overwhelming. They may become obsessed with feelings of loss, personal failure, guilt or helplessness. This negative thinking can lead to thoughts of suicide. In bipolar disorder, suicide is an ever-present danger, as some people become suicidal in manic or mixed states. Depression associated with bipolar disorder may be more difficult to treat. – See more at: http://www.nami.org/bipolar#sthash.8tMHqEsJ.dpuf
Why am I writing about bipolar disorder, mental illness and NAMI? You ask.
Bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety, all mental illnesses, have impacted our immediate family for years.
I pray that my transparency about our mental illness will contribute to eliminating the toxic stigma associated with the disease. Statistics show that one in every five families in the U.S. is impacted by mental illness. If just one person or one family realizes how devastating and debilitating mental illness can be, we may begin to erase the stigma.