What is Bipolar?
What is Bipolar Depression?
Major depression is defined as having five of about twenty symptoms such as feeling sad, early morning awakening, dreading the day, hopelessness, feeling worthless, suicidal ideation, feeling guilty, to name a few, that last more than two weeks and can occur with or without manic episodes.
What is Bipolar Mania?
Mania alone is not a stand alone disease. Someone who experiences some of the manic symptoms but without major depression can be pigeon-holed as hyperthymic versus hypothymic (low mood), euthymic (normal mood).
Bipolar disease involves both major depression and manic states. Manic behavior includes rapid thoughts, which can be positive or negative, fast speaking, feeling superior than others, being the life of the party with quick improvised joking, increased desire for sex, buying sprees, etc. The most destructive component is irritability. Psychiatrists distinguish a bipolar I and bipolar II based on the severity of the manic phase using hypomania referring to bipolar II.
What is Bipolar Caused By?
Although the causes are unknown the predominate receptors in the brain for serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are out of whack.
A more severe form of bipolar disease is rapid cycling when episodes of depression and mania occur weekly or even daily. One may feel like being on a roller coaster, with moods and energy change that are out of control and disabling.
The usual age of onset of major depression or bipolar disease is between twenty and thirty. However over the past ten to fifteen years, both are being recognized at earlier ages. Often a patient experiences major depression and is treated only for that. With the powerful drugs now available for major depression, sometimes the treatment triggers a manic state, which then leads to a diagnosis of bipolar disease.