Bipolar Disorder: What Is It?

Andi Burroughs

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Mental illness is a disease that has claimed 20% of American minds, and less than 2% of them have Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar is a mood disorder that contains periods of mania followed by periods of depression due to irregularities in the usual patterns of emotions.  Children diagnosed with the disorder usually do not get an immediate diagnosis of Bipolar disorder. It is most commonly misdiagnosed as depression, and the most common depression medicine, SSRIs, could make the Bipolar symptoms worse.

 

There are two types of Bipolar disorder:  Bipolar Ⅰ and Bipolar Ⅱ. Bipolar Ⅰ is one manic episode followed by many depressive episodes. Bipolar Ⅱ is one depressive episode followed by a hypo-manic episode, a less severe manic episode. In both types, the mood swings are caused by chemical imbalances and not by anything outside of the body.

 

Part of  Bipolar Disorder is the depressive episodes. The depressive episodes are very similar to that of regular depression. The person feels sad or low, and they lose motivation and interest in things they love doing or have to do. Their appetite and sleep schedule can change as well. It gets harder to focus on work or school. The person can start feeling guilty or worthless which can lead to thoughts of suicide or suicidal actions.

 

The other part of Bipolar Disorder is the manic episodes. This is the main part that sets it apart from regular depression. A manic episode is the exact opposite of a depressive episode. Instead of having a lack of energy, the person gets an overwhelming amount of energy. They can get a big ego and little need for sleep. The person may talk rapidly, sometimes they don’t even know what they are talking about and may become confused. Their attitude is more goal directed. They are often more involved in risky activities with painful consequences. When the Bipolar is extreme in a person, it may cause them to hallucinate. A hypo-manic episode is like a manic episode, but it does not majorly interfere with the person’s life.

 

A lot of people mistake a manic episode with extreme happiness, but they are very different.  Mania is very intense, often to the point to which it gets unbearable. They are irritable and often unrealistic. They are constantly moving and or speaking. All these feelings develop on their own.

 

If you know someone with Bipolar Disorder the best thing to do is make sure that person gets help. There is many treatment options according to teenmentalhealth.org. There is psychotherapy (or talk therapy) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT is offered as family or individual. There is always psycho-education which educates the person. The usual treatment is medication and talk therapy.

 

There are many different places a person with Bipolar could get support: school, family, and friends. The best way to support a Bipolar child at school is to make sure adjustments are made to help the child succeed. Make sure to establish a routine. A routine is very important. There are also support groups made for children and teens with Bipolar and other mental disorders whenever they need it.

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