Q: Hello i have only recently heard of Bipolar
Depression, a very good friend of mine's Sister has it and i would like to know
more about this condition so that i can try to understand what she and her
family are going through please.
The key characteristic of bipolar disorder is extreme mood swings, from
manic highs to severe depressions. It is called a mood disorder because it
profoundly affects a person's experiences of emotion and "affect" or the way he
or she conveys emotions to others. It is called bipolar because the mood swings
occur between two poles- high and low- as opposed to unipolar disorder where
mood swings occur along only one pole- the lows.
In the manic or "high" state, people experience different combinations of
the following: elated mood ( excessive happiness), irritable mood (excessive
anger and touchiness), a decreased need for sleep, an inflated sense of
themselves and their abilities, increased talkativeness, racing thoughts, or
jumping from one idea to another, an increase in activity and energy levels,
changes in thinking, attention, and perception, and impulsive, reckless
behavior. These episodes alternate with intervals in which a person becomes
depressed, sad, blue, or "down in the dumps", feels fatigued, has difficulty
sleeping, feels guilty and bad about him- or herself, has trouble concentrating
or making decisions, and often feels like committing suicide.
Episodes of mania or depression can last anywhere from days to months.
Their severity varies greatly from person to person. The periods in between
manic and depressive episodes are symptom-free in some people. For others,
there are symptoms left over from the episodes, such as sleep disturbance,
ongoing irritability, or dysthymic or hypomanic disorders. Most people
experience problems in their social and work life because of the illness.
Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder: Julie A. Fast, 2004.
The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide, David J. Miklowitz, 2002.
David Schafer, M.Ed.
Published June, 2006