Bipolar Disorder, What Does it Really Mean?

INTRODUCTION TO BIPOLAR DISORDER

 

Since I created and started The Bipolar Battle, I have received a few inquiries as to the definition of bipolar disorder.  I decided to use this post to dive into some of the main points.

 

Everybody experiences fluctuations in their mood and energy.  Those who have bipolar disorder, a mental illness, experience extreme disabling lows that fluctuate to sometimes psychotic manic highs.  The illness brings on extreme changes in mood, sleep, energy, and overall activity levels.  The ability to carry out everyday tasks can be adversely affected.

 

MAIN TYPES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER

 

BIPOLAR TYPE 1

 

This is the textbook version of bipolar disorder.  An individual afflicted with type 1 experiences manic and sometimes psychotic highs.  My doctor told me in the beginning “Whatever goes up, must come down”.  She taught me, and I have experienced myself that the more intense the manic high, the more intense the disabling low.  The two poles alternate between mania and depression.

 

BIPOLAR TYPE 2

 

Those with type 2 are similar to type 1.  They have not experienced a full-blown mania but instead a hypomania.  A person fluctuates between their two poles of depression and hypomania.

 

BIPOLAR TYPE 3

 

There is also another type.  Type 3 N.O.S. is short for not otherwise specified.  This is not common, but I have known a few people who have received this diagnosis.

 

DEFINITIONS

 

DEPRESSION

 

Depression is often characterized by:

A loss of interest in what the patient used to enjoy

  1. Being withdrawn
  2. A loss of hope
  3. Feeling sad or down
  4. Oversleeping
  5. Weight gain or loss
  6. Loss of energy

 

The lower end of the bipolar spectrum is also often characterized in extreme cases, with the individual having ruminating thoughts of death and possible suicide attempts.  If you or someone you know is struggling emotionally, call The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (24 hours a day) at 1-800-273-8255.  You can also text “TalkWithUs” to 66746.

 

MANIA

 

Mania is often characterized by:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Pressured speech
  • Elated mood
  • Grandiosity
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Disorganized thinking
  • No need for sleep
  • Increase in goal-oriented activity
  • Hypersexuality
  • Hyperactivity
  • Psychosis

 

HYPOMANIA

 

The symptoms are like mania.  Hypomania is just a dialed down form of mania.  The difference:  There are never any psychotic symptoms and delusions.

 

MIXED

 

A mixed state is described with symptoms of both depression and mania at the same time.  I have heard many medical professionals state that this could possibly be the worst-case scenario for a patient with bipolar disorder.  Their reasoning:  An individual in a mixed state can be depressed and suicidal with the manic energy and irrational thinking to follow through on their suicidal desires.

 

Take a look at the following cartoon I had created to give a quick glimpse into what this illness is all about.