Typically the signs of bipolar disorder will begin when the patient is in their teens or early twenties. The symptoms of this mental illness may start gradually, and the sufferer may realize they aren’t feeling as good as they used to. Or the signs can come on suddenly, as if triggered by a traumatic event.
Bipolar disorder is commonly called manic-depressive illness. It is a common mental disorder that affects between two and three percent of the United States population. The signs and symptoms range from mild to severe. They consist of mood, energy, and functioning levels that change back and forth. Moods can swing from up to down, energy levels from being energized on six hours of sleep to always fatigued, and the patients ability to function can change from having lots of great ideas and the ability to carry through, to not being able to finish anything.
At Risk for Bipolar Disorder
There is no known cause for bipolar disorder. However it is believed to have a genetic link. This means if a blood relative in your family has bipolar disorder you have a better than average chance of getting the disease depending on how close the connection is. Some speculate that bipolar disease can be triggered by a traumatic event, and there are some who believe there are nutritional and other causes of bipolar.
While you have a better chance of developing the disease in your early teens and twenties, if you haven’t developed bipolar disorder by the time you are fifty you probably never will.
Questions for Self-Diagnosis
If you think you might have any one of the forms of bipolar disorder you should speak to a health care professional about your concerns. There are self-diagnosing questionnaires on the Internet that may help you decide, and you can certainly take them and make note of the questions and your answers to discuss the results with your doctor, but don’t use these quizzes as the measuring stick for talking to your health care professional. Bipolar disorder is generally diagnosed after a psychiatrist sees you in a manic state and a depressed state. The questions about how you feel may help the psychiatrist prior to this observation.
The types of questions asked on these quizzes to help you determine if you might be bipolar include:
- If you have times when you talk faster or talk more, than normal?
- Are there times when you do more things than you normally do? When you are more active?
- Are there times when you are more interested in sex than normal?
- Do you have times when you are feeling really good, and yet are depressed at the same time?
- Are there big differences in the quality and quantity of your work over time?
- Do you have periods when you are very angry or hostile and don’t know why?
The questionnaires will typically ask you about swings in mood, temperament, activities, and productivity. This is because someone with bipolar disorder will have manic episodes where life is productive. These are up times where they feel good, work hard, are creative, talk more, have sex more, etc. Then they will also go through depressive episodes where they are tired, don’t want to do anything, talk to anyone, have sex, or think about anything.
The manic/depressive cycles can be far apart, right together, or right at the same time, depending on the form of bipolar disorder that you have.
For a bipolar screening quiz that can help you determine what to speak to your doctor about, see here.
Life Impact of Bipolar Disorder
If you have bipolar disorder it can drastically impact your life. This mental illness can make it difficult to maintain a relationship, job, or finish any project or school. Those who suffer from the disease are at risk for committing suicide, or abusing alcohol or drugs. This is why it is imperative that you speak to a medical professional if you think you might be bipolar. There are many things that can now be done to help you control many of the signs and symptoms of bipolar disease.
Doctors today have a better understanding of bipolar disorder and so the treatment options can work better than what was available even a few years ago. Treating bipolar disease can allow you to lead a normal and productive life. The problem is that so many times the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder go undiagnosed. Many people or teens will suffer for years before they are diagnosed, or they may go undiagnosed.
This is why if you thing you are bipolar you should talk to your doctor and undergo testing and therapy. If you have the disorder just knowing can help you learn to control the illness.