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Information Centre > Articles And Essays > Bipolar Disorder

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"Understanding Bipolar Disorder." by: Mark Osbourne | Article ID: #B002

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

You're happy! You've never been happier! You feel full of life! You're so up, you haven't even been able to sleep for two days! You're on a natural high! And then the crash happens. And you never know why.

People with bipolar disorder live in a world of extremes. If you know someone with bipolar disorder, it might seem like they have multiple personalities. Co-workers, family members, or significant others may feel dizzy trying to keep up. What did you say now? She's so angry that she won't even talk to you! Wait, now she's back; she's crying and depressed and needs you for emotional support. You come back to check the next day, only to find her giddy with joy; she's burned through two credit cards buying home decorating supplies and she is now up at 2 AM wallpapering her bedroom. You keep waiting for it to make sense, but the mysteries only get deeper. Where's the happy medium?

And that's just the problem: there is none. In earlier times we might have misdiagnosed a bipolar sufferer as schizophrenic, just plain depressed, paranoid, delusional, or even drug-addicted. It has only been in recent decades that we have gotten to understand this exotic disease. It is no accident that bipolar disorder can be misdiagnosed as other diseases, because at times its symptoms are indistinguishable from many other disorders. Bipolars also show a marked tendency to abuse drugs, perhaps in an attempt to stabilize themselves or to try to lengthen their manic phases.

Bipolars often resist treatment, because they feel so good in their manic phase. In fact, their life is much sadder than they themselves may realize. Bipolars sink into a bottomless depression and may consider and act on suicidal impulses or deliberately harm themselves through cutting the skin. Bipolars wreck their lives, both in desperation during low times and in over-confidence during high times. In addition, a sufferer in manic phase may even become irritable or fly into a rage; the mind's way of showing that even too much of an up feeling is... too much!

The good news about bipolar disorder is that it is especially responsive to medication. Unlike many psychological disorders for which treatments for only some of the symptoms exist, bipolar disorder virtually vanishes under a regular dosage of the proper medication. The toughest part is in keeping the patient treated. Those afflicted are likely to put any rationalization to their behavior, and even after treatment may stop taking their medication during times of stress, simply because they miss the high of the manic phase.

Famous bipolar cases, some diagnosed only retroactively, include Lord Byron, Kurt Cobain, Patty Duke, Carrie Fischer, F. Scott Fitzgerald (but he had everything!), Ernest Hemingway, Marilyn Monroe, Ozzy Osborne, Axl Rose, and Vincent van Gogh.

About The Author

Mark Osbourne is a researcher and writer on bipolar disorder & has a website at http://www.bipolar-disorder-help.info and http://www.bipolar-disorder-help.info/about-bipolar-disorder.html which provides advice and information. Information about work related symptoms see http://www.bipolar-disorder-help.info/bipolar-disorder-and-work.html.


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