Mental Illnesses are Real Illnesses
Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a medical illness suffered by over 10 million American people that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, thought, functioning and behavior. Changes may be subtle or dramatic and vary greatly over the course of a person’s life.
Bipolar disorder is a chronic and generally lifelong condition with recurring episodes of mania and depression that can last from days to months. This disease usually begins in late adolescence or early adulthood, although it can start in early childhood. Bipolar disorder affects both men and women equally and is found among all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes.
Most people generally require some sort of lifelong treatment. Medication is available, and psychotherapy, support and education are also essential components of the treatment process.
Symptoms of Mania (the “highs”):
Increased physical and mental activity and energy
Heightened mood, exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
Excessive irritability, aggressive behavior
Decreased need for sleep without fatigue
Grandiose thoughts, inflated sense of self-importance
Racing speech or thoughts
Impulsiveness, poor judgment, distractibility
In severe cases, delusions and hallucinations
Symptoms of Depression (the “lows”):
Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
Unexplained aches and pains
Recurring thoughts of death or suicide