Everyone has bad days. Monday morning is a prime example: you wake up and wish it was Saturday, not Monday. But some people have bad days that are beyond bad; they endure endless terrible days that feel awful for no good reason and that last for weeks. These are then followed by manic highs where the person feels like they can conquer the world. Such symptoms are typical of bipolar disorder, but if you have no experience of the illness, find out how to know if someone is bipolar so you can help them.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar is a serious mood disorder, and if left untreated, the problem can cause significant problems with relationships, work, and all areas of the person’s life. But if the right treatment is obtained, it is possible for a person with bipolar disorder to live with their condition and keep the mood extremes under control.
Extreme mood swings are the main characteristic of bipolar disorder. Unlike regular depression and episodes of moodiness, bipolar people cycle between bouts of black depression and euphoria. Sometimes there can be periods of normality in between the depression and mania, but not always.
During manic episodes, a bipolar person will be full of inexplicable energy. Bipolar people often embark on wild, crazy schemes, doing stuff that they would not consider doing when back in a period of normality. One of the manic symptoms of bipolar is talking too fast, so if you notice wildly euphoric moods combined with massive amounts of restless energy, consider that the person could be in the midst of a manic bipolar episode. Bipolar people having a manic episode often require less sleep than normal. They might also act with no regard to the consequences of their actions, for example behaving in a promiscuous way or indulging in gambling or other risky behaviors.
The other side of the bipolar coin is depression. Like any other type of depression, bipolar depressive episodes are characterized by extreme sadness, feelings of hopelessness, and a withdrawal from friends and family. The depressive phase of bipolar can last for weeks or longer, so look out for the person who refuses to get out of bed and appears to be sad for no apparent reason. At its worst, a bipolar person having a major depressive episode could end up feeling suicidal, so be vigilant and if you are concerned that someone you care about could be in danger, seek help on their behalf immediately.
If you believe that a friend or relative might be suffering from bipolar, it is very important that they receive professional help. Bipolar people will not get better without help: bipolar is a chemical imbalance in the brain rather than a state of mind. As such, the illness requires specialist treatment from mental health professionals. This can take the form of medications such as Risperdal to control the mood swings, but talking therapy can also help to assist the patient to find ways of dealing with their bipolar symptoms and recognize when they are heading for a manic or depressive episode.