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How can bipolar disorder be diagnosed?

When we talk about bipolar disorder, we mean unusual mood shifts that lead either to high levels of energy and excitement or depressive behavior. All of this may influence day-to-day activity.

We can distinguish 4 types of bipolar disorder and they are similar through the fact that they involve clear mood and energy shifts.

As mentioned above, we have 4 basic types of bipolar disorder, which are:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder is a condition that implies an episode of mania experienced at some point. This type is diagnosed, when the patient had both depression and mania. The manic episode has to last for more than a week in order to be diagnosed as bipolar I.
  2. The second type is Bipolar II Disorder which is characterized through repeated shifts from episodes of depression to hyperactivity, but it never goes to its “peak” state.
  3. Third type is Cyclothymia which is characterized as a persistently unstable mood. A normal mood is possible with cyclothymia, but it may last for less than 8 months.
  4. The fourth type is an “unspecified” bipolar disorder which means that there were not met the necessary criteria for the other three types but, the person, nevertheless, still experiences periods of clinically essential irregular mood elevation.

How can bipolar disorder be diagnosed?

A properly diagnosed bipolar disorder is the first step to a healthy life full of enjoyable activities. First of all, it should be made clear that a doctor or a specialist in the field of mental illnesses should be visited in order to check whether this is really a case of bipolar disorder. The importance of ruling out other diseases that can give similar symptoms is immeasurable. The doctor can confirm your condition by means of mental health examination or send you to an expert, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist for further examination.

An early visit to a doctor is the key to a shorter period of treatment and faster recovery. An effective treatment plan together with certain changes in your lifestyle will provide the best results. Waiting is not an option here, because the symptoms might get more intense after a while.

Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder

There are no specific patterns or cycles for these dramatic manifestations of mood shifts. It is not unusual for a person to have several episodes of depression which then would be followed by hypomania. These episodes may last for days, weeks, months or even years.

Symptoms of hypomania (elevated state):

  • Extreme joy, confidence, and enthusiasm
  • Unexpected mood shifts from happiness to an irritated condition or even anger
  • Agitation
  • Being unusually talkative and having trouble focusing
  • High energy levels and insomnia
  • Increased sex performance
  • Making big and improbable plans
  • Demonstrating poor judgment
  • Excessive abuse of alcohol and other substances
  • Acting in a reckless manner

Symptoms of depression or low mood may include:

  • Unhappiness or melancholy
  • Low energy levels
  • Feelings of desperation or insignificance
  • Lack of enjoyment for things that used to bring pleasure in the past
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Crying very often
  • Having a hard time with making decisions
  • Feeling of anger or irritation
  • Fatigue and sleep deprivation
  • Poor or increased appetite and subsequent weight changes
  • Contemplating death or suicide
  • Suicide attempts

What are the causes of bipolar disorder?

There are several factors and scientists believe that their combination can result in bipolar disorder.

The risk increases, if other family members are experiencing the disorder. Genetics represent one of factors, but it is not the defining one, as there are cases when children from families with a history of depression did not develop this disorder. The same exception can be applied for identical twins.

Stress is known to be the cause for many types of various mental illnesses and here it is not an exception. Tragic events in the family, an illness or chronic pain and financial problems can all factor in the apparition of depressive episodes. Very much depends on the person’s ability to cope with stressful situations.

Other factor represents the brain function. Scans of brain cannot serve as indication for bipolar disorders. However, scientists have found a correlation in small differences from average in certain areas of brain functions with people who experience bipolar disorder.

Treatment methods for bipolar disorder

Several methods and their combination can be applied for the course of treatment for bipolar disorder with psychotherapy being one of them. Cognitive behavioral therapy is known to provide great results, depending on the severity of symptoms and the period of their manifestation. Such medications as antidepressants or mood stabilizer are often used to cure the symptoms of this disorder.

In time to buy antidepressants is very important. Remember that only a doctor or a licensed professional that activates in the sphere of mental conditions can identify the right medication and dosage for an individual case.

Changes in lifestyle, such as physical exercise, a well-balanced diet or meditation are used in combination with traditional medication in order to improve your health more efficiently and make sure that the manifestations won’t bother again in the future.

It may be more complicated to implement the course of treatment for people who have alcohol problems, as they may develop forms of disorder that are harder to treat.

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