Bipolar Disorder?
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Bipolar Disorder -  What is It?

Everyone can relate to the word mood. We are all happy, excited, sad or depressed at some point in our lives. Bipolar Affective Disorder (Manic Depressive Illness) is a biochemical imbalance that causes gross mood changes from the high reaches of mania to the lows of severe depression. For the one percent or twenty million Americans who have this condition it can mean hospitalizations, a life time of medication, disability at an early age and the reduced income associated with it.  Bipolar Affective Disorder can be life threatening. 

Bipolar Affective Disorder is nobodys "fault" - your parents are
not to blame for the way they raised you, nor are you to blame
for failing to deal adequately with the stresses of life. The cause
of Bipolar Affective Disorder is unknown and at the present
time there is no cure. There are, however, effective treatments available. 

There are several recognized forms of Bipolar Affective Disorder as shown in The Bipolar Spectrum below. Following it are definitions of common terminology regarding the illness. 

Hopefully one day soon there will be a cure for this illness that has impacted harshly, not only on bipolars, but on their families, friends and society. 

                      THE BIPOLAR SPECTRUM

     BIPOLAR I: Both mania and major depression 

     BIPOLAR II: Major depression and hypomania 

     BIPOLAR III: Cyclothymia. Mild depression and hypomania 

     BIPOLAR IV: Depression and usually no mania. Mania may be triggered by some antidepressants. 

     BIPOLAR V: Depression and no mania. Some blood relatives have had mania 

     BIPOLAR VI: Mania and no depression 

                              SOME DEFINITIONS

Affective Disorder: any disorder of "affect" or "mood" most often caused by biochemical imbalance. 

Anhedonia: the inability to experience pleasure; a loss of interest in once pleasurable activities. 

Antidepressants: drugs developed primarily to treat and relieve symptoms of depression. 

Antipsychotics: drugs used to treat severe distortions in thought perception and emotion that characterize psychoses. (also known as neuroleptics). 

Bipolar: Literally...having two poles. In bipolar affective disorder wide mood swings from mania to depression usually with periods of normal mood.  Impaired insight into mood during an episode is

Cyclothymia: Comparatively mild mood swings from depression to mania. Often cyclothymics are always up or down, not staying in a normal mood for long. 

Delusion: A fixed false belief regarding the self or the world persistently held despite clear evidence to the contrary. In depression, often of guilt, sin or crime. In mania of grandeur and unlimited powerto save the world. 

Depression: A mental disorder of lowered mood, slowed thinking, decreased pleasure, guilt feelings, hopelessness, despair, and problems in sleeping and eating. 

Euphoria: An exaggerated feeling of physical and emotional well-being. 

Euthymic Mood: The "normal" mood when not manic or depressed. 

Hallucinations: A perception of sounds, sights, physical sensations or smells that do not exist. 

Hypomania: "less than manic" but still highly energized, in an unusually good or unusually irritable mood, making impulsive decisions and having mildly impaired judgement. Falls somewhere between euthymia and mania. 

Lithium: a drug used for stabilizing the mood swings of Bipolar Affective Disorder. 

Manic Depressive Illness: previous name for Bipolar Affective Disorder. Still commonly used. 

Mental Health: A state of psychological and emotional well-being that enables an individual to love, work, relate to others effectively, and resolve conflicts. 

Mixed Episode: A bipolar episode with features of both mania and depression, 

Paranoia: The tendency to view the actions of others as deliberately threatening or demeaning; suspicious thinking based on misinterpretation of an actual event. 

Psychological Symptoms: Symptoms or feelings of the mind that cause distress and interfere with normal racing thoughts and elation in mania, and poor concentration and loss of
interest in depression. 

Psychoses: A major mental disorder characterized by gross impairment of an individual's perception of reality and relate to others. It can be bilogical or emotional in origin. 

Rapid Cycling: A bipolar who has severe episodes of depression and mania occurring more than four times in one year. 

Self Esteem: A sense of self-worth. The valuing of oneself as a person. 

Self-Help Group: An assembly of individuals with a common problem who aid one another through personal and group support. 

Vegetative Symptoms: Disruptions of the body's physical insomnia and loss of appetite. 



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