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Bipolar is a mental illness that deals with extreme mood swings. Bipolar used to be labeled as manic depression. There is so much more to it than that. There are 2 distinct types of Bipolar, but some say there are actually 4.
The most common types of Bipolar are simply Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Everyone is different but there are some distinct symptoms to each, although they can overlap. Bipolar is hard to diagnose and treat sometimes because moods can change in the blink of an eye.
The most common types of Bipolar and their symptoms can last weeks or months:
Bipolar I is characterized by one or more manic episodes or mixed episodes (which is when you experience symptoms of both a mania and a depression). Manic is when they have racing thoughts and are very hyper, can’t sit still, and talk really fast. They can also jump from topic to topic so fast when speaking your head will spin. There have also been reports of some patients experiencing a hyper sex drive during a manic episode.
Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed after one or more major depressive episodes and at least one episode of hypomania, with possible periods of level mood between episodes.
People who suffer from Bipolar II are more likely to suffer from depression than the mania described in Bipolar I. The depression is more than just feeling sad. The depression is an all-consuming depression that can (but not always) cause them to be in an almost zombie state.
The other types of Bipolar that are not normally discussed are:
Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder characterized by several hypomanic episodes and less severe episodes of depression that alternate for at least two years. The severity of this illness may change over time.
Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)
Bipolar disorder that does not follow a particular pattern (for example, recurring hypomanic episodes without depressive symptoms, or very rapid swings between some symptoms of mania and some symptoms of depression) is called bipolar disorder Not Otherwise Specified (NOS).
Bipolar has no cure but it can be managed with proper medication and, talking to a regular therapist regularly. However, it is very common for patients to not follow through with these treatment plans. My husband suffers from Bipolar II and is depressed more often than he is manic.
It is very important for a Bipolar person to stay away from alcohol. Alcohol not only intensifies your symptoms, it also makes your medication ineffective. Many people with a mental illness will try to self-medicate with drugs and/or alcohol.
It’s extremely important for them to stay on their medication and to know what medications they are prescribed. My husband struggles with staying on his medication and he gets a false sense of security when on them, thinking he can stop and will be functional. He also has no idea what medications he’s prescribed in the first place, which is why I am in charge of his medications. I make sure he takes them, they are refilled on time etc. A great way to keep them organized is with a printable medication list. It’s great for yourself, emergencies, and to make sure that your physicians are all on the same page.
My husband will go through periods of time where he will not stay on his medication and also not follow through with his therapy. He has other medical conditions that he does not take care of during this time as well. Mental illness and being married to someone with a mental illness is not easy.
Do you know someone who suffers from a mental illness?
It's important not only for the patient to seek counseling but for their loved ones as well.