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Bipolar disorder: more than teenage mood swings

Woman with bipolar disorder

Optum Perks Author

By Optum Perks Author

Everyone experiences times in their lives where they feel on top of the world and then times when they are down in the dumps. But for some people living with bipolar disorder, mood changes can be attributed to more than just the lack of Netflix movie options or your favorite neighborhood bar shutting down. For those people, mood swings can be debilitating, leading to difficulty functioning in everyday life.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that consists of a combination of manic and depressive episodes. No two bipolar cases look alike, and people experience these distinct "mood episodes" in different ways. The manic and depressive states may be very distinct or, in the case of mixed episodes, come simultaneously or very close together. Manic episodes can also vary from person to person. Some may have psychotic symptoms while others experience a milder form called hypomania. Those who pass through hypomania can usually function normally in their everyday life.

Apart from mood episodes, those suffering from bipolar disorder can have additional symptoms. Behavioral symptoms include irritability, risky behavior, and aggression. Sleep patterns are often disrupted by bipolar disorder, but a general sense of fatigue may also be present. Many times these symptoms can be unnoticed by those who experience them. If you notice a friend or family member with any of these symptoms, you should direct them to get checked out by a mental health professional.

Who does it affect?

Bipolar disorder plays no favorites in its reach. It can affect just about anyone, but it is most common in older teenagers and young adults. However, it has been seen in children as young as six. Men and women both fall prey to the disorder, but women may experience more periods of depression. Women are also more likely to have rapid cycling, which means they have four or more mood episodes in one year.

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While bipolar disorder can't be predicted, there are certain risk factors that might predispose some individuals to the disorder. You can't diagnose bipolar from a brain scan, but scientists and doctors have found correlation between brain structure and function and bipolar disorder, particularly when dealing with damaged brain tissue. Severe stress can also cause bipolar disorder to present itself. The most common risk factor is family history. But even that is not a certainty. Bipolar disorder presents itself where no family history of the illness is present, and conversely the disorder can pass over multiple generations.

How can it be treated?

Like many mental illnesses, bipolar disorder cannot be cured, but there are many ways of treating the disease and managing the symptoms. The most common options are psychotherapy and medication. Medications used include mood stabilizers, anti-psychotic drugs, and antidepressants.

If you or a loved one demonstrates these symptoms, please seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible. They will be able to help you find the treatment that is most appropriate. If you're looking for the drugs that can help treat bipolar disorder, try using searchRX. You can find the cheapest option available and take your coupon right to the pharmacy window.