What Is A Bipolar Disorder?

There is nothing quite so frustrating as being diagnosed with a mental disorder. However, millions of Americans are being diagnosed with bipolar disorder every day, people who are part of loving families, respected in the workplace and live full and rich lives.

Bipolar disorder is a condition that is still being explored by scientists and doctors around the world. As a brain disorder, it is often hard to diagnose and can present itself in many different ways depending on the patient's past history, lifestyle, temperament and behaviors. The disorder can strike male or female, rich or poor and young or old.

No one is guaranteed safe from developing the condition. Family history and genetics has a lot to do with increased opportunities of inheriting the predisposition for the disease, as does substance abuse. Studies have shown that nearly half of patients diagnosed with the condition these days are former drug abusers.

Bipolar disorder affects the mood swings and behavior of those suffering from it, and can range from mild, moderate or severe episodes of depression to more normal or balanced moods to 'hyper' behaviors as well as mania. The spectrum offers almost a sliding scale of behaviors that usually present and remain for days, weeks, sometimes even years.

Many people diagnosed with the condition lead happy, fairly normal lives with periods of depression that hit every few years, while others suffer episodes of severe depression that may occur more than four or more times a year. Such a rapid chance in behaviors in such a short time span is called 'rapid-cycling' and affects personal and professional aspects of a patient's life.

Bipolar disorder is classified in two ways. Type I, or the classic form, finds patients suffering from repeating episodes of both severa periods of depression and mania, while Type II presents itself as a more mild form of the disease. Many people diagnosed with Type II lead fairly happy, normal lives and are able to work and remain constructive forces in society.

As a matter of fact, many of us work with such people on a daily basis and do not even realize it. More severe forms of bipolar disorder may find someone experiencing multiple, severe episodes in a year, and in fact, many experience such episodes on a weekly or daily basis. For some people, a change of seasons can provoke episodes, and coincide with the Winter Blues. Such depression clears up in Spring and Summer, and then again cycles down again the following Fall.

While all of us, at one time or another, experience a wide range of mood swings on a regular basis, those with bipolar disorder issues find themselves on a roller coaster that they can not get off. If left untreated, symptoms can lead to increased and more severe episodes. While the specific causes of bipolar disorder remain a mystery for the most part, doctors and scientists are honing in on genetics to discover the answers to a mental condition that has perplexed manic for centuries.