Mental Illnesses (Part III): Bipolar Disorder

Jasmine Basila

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Despite what you may think, Bipolar Disorder (also known as Manic Depressive Disorder), when boiled down, isn’t just oddly-timed mood swings. I realize the terms are used interchangeably, but doing so does all a great disservice. I have been close with a few whom suffer from BPD, and so, with various sources, I will note details most do not know.

Firstly, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there are four categories of the disorder: Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia), and unspecified versions that fall into none of these categories.

Secondly, those who have any variants usually experience one of the two states at intervals: mania and depressive episodes. Some can last minutes, others can last for a whole year. Mania is an elevated feeling, in which one can sometimes lose their grip on reality in some cases. Depressive episodes, on the other hand, involve periods of deep sadness.

In some cases, those with BPD practice substance abuse, as well as other destructive habits. You can find a more elaborate list of general symptoms on WebMD.com.

The variants of the disorder usually frame the length of mood swings. Bipolar I Disorder is a broad spectrum in which the moments can change within a day or last for months, but they rarely persist for a year. Bipolar Disorder II has less severe mania, but similar cycles as BPID. Cyclothymic Disorder is an even milder variant with typically faster cycles.

Bipolar Disorder can be best treated with the right psychological help and medication. Unless you are a licensed counselor of some sort, the best one can do to help a loved one with the disorder is listen and be patient with them. And, if you yourself have been diagnosed, keep track of your mental and physical health. There are many tells that show if you’re going through a swing, so you should learn to recognize them and catch yourself. If you have been prescribed with medication, stay up to date with it, and be truthful with the professionals that are trying to help.

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Mental Illnesses (Part III): Bipolar Disorder