Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day

By Diane Forrest, RN

Being a movie star or public figure has its ups and downs.  Not only do you have the love and appreciation of countless fans, not to mention all the perks and money, but you also have the inconvenience of having your life on display for everyone to know your deepest darkest secrets.  When you are in the public life, nothing you do or say goes unnoticed. For example, what do you think of when I say the names: Jim Carrey, Mel Gibson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Brittney Spears, and Charlie Sheen?  Most of you are thinking about the public meltdowns these stars have had in recent days.

Today is Bipolar Disorder Awareness Day, and this disease is the cause of these melt downs.  Bipolar disorder is a condition in which people go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The "mood swings" between mania and depression can be very quick.  Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. It usually starts between ages 15 - 25. The exact cause is unknown, but it occurs more often in relatives of people with bipolar disorder.


The manic phase may last from days to months. It can include the following symptoms:
  • Easily distracted
  • Little need for sleep
  • Poor judgment
  • Poor temper control
  • Reckless behavior and lack of self-control
  • Spending sprees
  • Very elevated mood
    • Excess activity (hyperactivity)
    • Increased energy
    • Racing thoughts
    • Talking a lot
    • Very high self-esteem (false beliefs about self or abilities)

The depressed phase of both types of bipolar disorder includes the following symptoms:
  • Daily low mood or sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Eating problems
    • Loss of appetite and weight loss
    • Overeating and weight gain
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty
  • Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Thoughts of death and suicide
  • Trouble getting to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Pulling away from friends or activities that were once enjoyed

There are no tests to determine if you have Bipolar Disorder, They key to diagnosis it to take a detailed medical history, including  interviews with friends and family.  A family history of Bipolar Disorder is also a good determining factor.  Bipolar is treated with some medications such as lithium or antipsychotics.   The goal is to make sure the patient continues to take their medications, even when they are feeling better.  Some people stop taking the medication as soon as they feel better or because the mania feels good. Stopping medication can cause serious problems.

Suicide is a very real risk during both mania and depression. People with bipolar disorder or think or talk about suicide need immediate emergency attention.

Some people stop taking the medication as soon as they feel better or because the mania feels good. Stopping medication can cause serious problems.

Take this short quiz to see if you have some of the symptoms of Bipolar disorder

For More information on today, go to this site:

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