10 Subtle Signs of Bipolar Disorder

When it comes to mental illness, the first name that strikes the mind is bipolar disorder. Bipolar is a complex illness and according to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), nearly 6 million people (both men and women) living in the US suffers from bipolar disorder.

This is a kind of mental health problem where the patients experience mood disorders. Within a very short time the person can experience up and down episodes of mania and depression. For instance a person may feel happy and after a few minutes he or she may feel depressed. Apart from dramatic and unpredictable mood swings, there are many more different signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder.

But as the warning signs of bipolar disorder are difficult to judge as the signs are often confused with other health problems like major depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or just plain moodiness. Often the symptoms of bipolar disorder can lead to life-threatening situations not just for the person suffering from it but also for those who live with them. This is why it is very essential to understand the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Here are 10 signs of bipolar disorder.

High Energy

When a person suffers from bipolar disorder, then it is very common to experience high energy state. During such a phase, a person feels exuberant but still has not lost his or her grip on reality. The extremely energetic behavior often make a person rush around and take on new projects and the person may enjoy excessive happiness, excitement, restlessness, less need for sleep, racing thoughts and a tendency to make grand and unattainable plans.

Inability to complete tasks

Often people suffering from bipolar disorder cannot complete tasks given to them. This can lead to many half-completed tasks as often the person cannot plan properly when it comes to multi tasking. He or she will start a work and move on to something else before completing the previous task. Also a person gets distracted easily which causes many incomplete tasks.

Depression

A person suffering from bipolar disorder can have depression symptoms like sadness, loss of energy, uncontrollable crying, anxiety, irritability, change in appetite, increased need for sleep, difficulty making decisions, and thoughts of death or suicide. Often the person dwells on past mistakes which can make him or her feel really bad. This is why a person may not take interest or pleasure in his or her life. 

Irritability

At times a person suffering from bipolar disorder may experience unusually upbeat or highly irritable mood. Normal irritability only lasts for a little while but at times it can happen for a longer period of time. Extreme irritability often creates problem in their personal life.

Rapid speech

Some people are naturally chatty or talkative but a person having bipolar disorder experience pressured speech. This kind of speech occurs when someone is really not in a two-way conversation. Besides rapid speech, a person may also be easily distracted from one topic of discussion to another.

Sleep problem

People suffering from bipolar disorder often have sleep problems. At times, they may sleep too much, while during other times they may not feel the need to sleep at all. Even after sleeping for a few hours, the person may feel great. Sleeping only a few hours every night is one of the warning signs of bipolar disorder.

Trouble at work

People with this disorder often have difficulty in the workplace because so many of their symptoms can interfere with their ability to show up for work, do their job, and interact productively with others. In addition they may have problem in completing their projects in a profitable manner.

Alcohol or drug abuse

About 50% of people with bipolar disorder also have a substance abuse problem, particularly alcohol use. Many people will start drinking alcoholic beverages in order to improve their mood when feeling depressed.

Erratic behavior

When a person with bipolar disorder is in a manic phase, he or she may indulge in activities they normally would not do. For instance a person can have unusual sexual behavior in an effort to slow down their mania.

Decreased ability to think clearly

Often a person feel like their mind is racing here and there and they do not have control over their thoughts. This flight of ideas sometimes occurs with pressured speech. People with bipolar may not recognize the symtoms or may not admit that they have no control over their miod. Due to this, it becomes hard for the person to remember things and make decisions.

Final Words:

In case you notice the above mentioned subtle signs of bipolar disorder in yourself or anyone else, it is essential to seek immediate medical help. For proper treatment of bipolar disorder you need to consult a psychiatrist or other mental health professional. With proper treatment you can easily control the symptoms of bipolar disorder and live a better life.

Useful Resources

 

Everything You Want to Know About Schizophrenia

According to the World Health Organization, around 24 million people in the world suffer from the problem of schizophrenia. Men and women are equally affected from schizophrenia. As it is a chronic and severe mental disorder, people should be aware of it so that it can be controlled within time.

What is Schizophrenia?

It is a long-term mental health problem where a patient often experiences delusions, hallucinations, social and emotional withdrawal and unexplainable behavior. For a schizophrenia patient, it becomes really difficult to differentiate between reality and imaginary things. Schizophrenia seriously disturbs the way people think, feel and relate to others.

Although this mental health problem has been present throughout human history, it was only in the early 20th century when German psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler gave the ‘schizophrenia’ to describe this kind of illness. The word ‘schizophrenia’ comes from the Greek words for ‘split’ and ‘mind’. But it is important to bear in mind that schizophrenia does not mean split personality. It is a kind of mental illness where a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined.

How many people suffer from Schizophrenia?

Statistics show that about 1% of the population in the world suffers from Schizophrenia. More than 2 million Americans suffer from this mental problem and every year new cases are diagnosed.

Schizophrenia can affect anyone from any walk of life. It is usually diagnosed in people between the age groups of 17 to 35 years. But at times it can even appear in middle age or even later. At the same schizophrenia also tends to be more severe in men as compared to women.

What causes schizophrenia?

Till date, no single cause has been found for schizophrenia, although there are certain factors that can cause schizophrenia. Some of the factors are:

Genetic: Schizophrenia has a strong connection with hereditary. People who have first degree family member suffering from schizophrenia have a higher chance of having this kind of mental disorder. Scientists also believe that several genes are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia, but that no gene causes the disease by itself.

Environmental issues: There are also certain environmental factors that can trigger this kind of mental disorder.Stress during pregnancy increases the production of the hormone known as cortisol in the body. This hormone can trigger schizophrenia. Other factors that may cause schizophrenia are viral infection during the prenatal stage,low level of oxygen at the time of birth, viral infection during infancy, malnutrition before birth, taking marijuana during teenage days and suffering from some kind of abuse in childhood.

Abnormal brain structure: It has been found that abnormalities in brain structure can also cause schizophrenia. For instance, enlarged brain ventricles can cause schizophrenia as it affects the planning and decision making capacity of the brain. Experts also suggest that imbalance in the neurotransmitters dopamine,glutamate, temporal lobes and amygdala can also cause schizophrenia.

Who is at a risk of having schizophrenia?

There are certain things that increase your chances of getting this mental problem.

Some of the risk factors are:

  • Someone from the family has schizophrenia.
  • A child is at a risk of having schizophrenia is during the pregnancy period; the mother suffered from malnutrition, had a viral infection, or took certain medicines for high blood pressure.
  • If someone from the family suffers from delusional disorder, then you may have this problem in later years.
  • If you have a problem with alcohol or drugs then you are more likely to have this problem.

What are the Symptoms and Signs of Schizophrenia?

A person with schizophrenia may not look like as if he or she is suffering from some kind of illness. In some cases, the symptoms may be more apparent. In order to properly understand schizophrenia, the symptoms are divided into different categories:

Positive symptoms:

Positive symptoms refer to behaviors and experiences of people with schizophrenia that people without schizophrenia do not have. A person showing positive symptoms will show signs such as:

  • Hallucinations where people start hearing voice, seeing things and feeling something that actually does not exist. 
  • Suspicious feeling which makes it difficult to perform everyday tasks.
  • Delusions which means having illogical or bizarre ideas or fantasies
  • Making up words without a meaning which makes it difficult to communicate with people.
  • Become more sensitive in nature.
  • Having difficulty to express feelings or at times there is intense bursts of emotions.

Negative symptoms:

Negative symptoms refers to traits that are absent or reduced in people with schizophrenia. A person showing negative symptoms will show signs such as:

  • Social withdrawal which means loss of interest in the feelings and lives of others.
  • Difficulty in expressing emotions.
  • Cannot take care of themselves.
  • A general loss of interest or enthusiasm in life and the ability to experience and feel pleasure.
  • Having speech difficulties.
  • Inappropriate reactions to events.

However, the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can differ from person to person. Both the pattern and severity of symptoms will also vary with time.

What are the different types of Schizophrenia?

There are differnet subtypes of schizophrenia which are classified according to their most prominent symptom. The different types of schizophrenia are:

Paranoid-type schizophrenia: This type of schizophrenia is mainly characterized by delusions and auditory hallucinations. Here a person can have normal intellectual functioning and expression of affect. Some of the common symptoms that a person with paranoid-type schizophrenia can exhibit are suspiciousness, anger and anxiety.

Disorganized-type schizophrenia: Disorganized schizophrenia usually happens at an earlier age as compared to other types of schizophrenia. The most prominent characteristics of this type of schizophrenia are impaired communication skills, illogical speech, inappropriate reactions, emotional indifference, infantile behavior and different types of facial expressions. At times, people suffering from disorganized schizophrenia may have symptoms of hallucinations and delusions, but not in an organized manner.

Catatonic-type schizophrenia: This type of schizophrenia is mainly characterized by disturbances of movement. Here people show signs of disturbance in movement that can be either be decrease or increase in motor activity. It means a person may keep himself completely immobile or move all over the place. Such change in behavior does not allow people to take care of themselves.

Along with these, there are also two other types of schizophrenia known as undifferentiated-type schizophrenia and residual-type schizophrenia.

How to diagnose schizophrenia?

To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, there are certain criteria which a person must meet. Such guideline is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental health experts from across the globe use it to diagnose schizophrenia.

A diagnosis of schizophrenia can be done by a medical expert only with the help of different techniques like psychiatric evaluation, medical history, physical exam and lab tests. At times more than one techniques are used by medical experts to come to the final conclusion as whether a person is suffering from schizophrenia or not.

Psychiatric evaluation: Here a doctor checks the mental status of a person by observing the behaviour of the person and by asking questions related to thoughts, moods, delusions, hallucinations and so on.

Medical history: A doctor will also ask question about the personal and family health history of a person.

Physical exam: A doctor will physically examine a person to find out medical issues behind this mental problem.

Laboratory tests: Till now there are no laboratory tests that can diagnose schizophrenia. But with simple blood and urine tests,the possibility of other health problems can be ruled out. At times MRI or a CT scan are also done to study brain abnormalities.

At times, it becomes very difficult to distinguish schizophrenia from other mental conditions like depression or bipolar disorder. It is only through proper medical check-up the problem can be diagnosed.

What are the treatment options for schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a serious and life-long disease that cannot be cured, but usually can be controlled with proper treatment. Also, as schizophrenia is a chronic condition, it usually requires treatment for a long period of time. Generally treatments are offered through the below mentioned options:

Medications:

Antipsychotic medications are the most effective treatment for schizophrenia. These medicines change the balance of chemicals in the brain and can help in controlling the symptoms. Some of the common Antipsychotic medications prescribed by doctors are:

  • Aripiprazole
  • Quetiapine
  • Risperidone
  • Clozapine
  • Ziprasidone
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Olanzapine
  • Paliperidone
  • Perphenazine
  • Fluphenazine
  • Haloperidol

All the above mentioned medicines can have certain side effects such as dizziness, feelings of restlessness, sleepiness, slowed movements, tremor and weight gain.

At times, doctors also prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to control the symptoms.

Psychosocial treatments:

Medications are the best options for schizophrenia treatment, but at times doctors even recommend psychosocial treatments.Some of the psychosocial treatments used in schizophrenia are:

  • Social skills training
  • Family therapy
  • Individual therapy

A variety of programs, such as case management, academic and employment counseling and housing programs, are often used to help people develop these skills. With correct treatment, most people suffering from schizophrenia can easily control the symptoms.

Self care treatment options

A person suffering from schizophrenia needs a lot of care at home care. Infact, care at home can make a lot of difference in the health of a person.

  • First, family member of the patient must ensure that he or she is taking prescribed medications on time.
  • The family should provide such an environment where a person suffering from schizophrenia can enjoy freedom of action.
  • A person with schizophrenia must learn to manage stress as stress can make the symptoms of schizophrenia worse.
  • A person with schizophrenia must get plenty of sleep. It is good to sleep more than the standard 8 hours.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs as it can worsen the symptoms and a person will not be benefitted by the treatments. If necessary seek professional help.
  • It is very essential for a person having schizophrenia to remain physically fit. To remain fit try to do regular physical exercises for at least half an hour daily.
  • Try to indulge in activities that can make you feel good about yourself. This way you proviwill remain busy and will also give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

On top of all these treatment options, you can also try some natural remedies to control the symptoms associated with schizophrenia. For instance, green cardamom seeds when used for making herbal tea can be used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Green cardamom seed have got healing properties as well as it can be very soothing to the nervous system. Similarly, basil leaves, Indian gooseberry, carrot and so on can also be used. For such simple and easy to follow home remedies, you can visit www.top10homeremedies.com.

No matter, what type of treatment is offered for schizophrenia it is impossible to predict the recovery time period. While in some cases a person can have just one episode of symptoms and in some cases people may need medication and support for the rest of their lives.

List of famous people with schizophrenia

There are many well known people, living or dead who suffered from schizophrenia. Some of those famous people are:

  • Lionel Aldridge, a professional football player.
  • Antonin Artaud, a well known theater artist from France.
  • Parveen Babi, a popular actress from India.
  • Syd Barrett, a well known musician.
  • Buddy Bolden, a famous jazz musician.
  • Will Elliott, an Australian writer.
  • Darrell Hammond, a comedian.
  • Tom Harrell, a successful Jazz Musician.
  • Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln and First Lady of the United States.
  • Michaelangelo, a well known painter.
  • John Nash, an economist and mathematician.
  • Vaslav Nijinsky, a well known dancer.
  • John Ogdon, a pianist and composer.
  • Ezra Pound, an American poet.
  • Katherine Routledge, an archaeologist.
  • Elyn Saks, a writer and researcher.
  • Alexander Spence, a rock musician.
  • Gene Tierney, an American actress.
  • Wesley Willis, a musician and artist.
  • Brian Wilson, a well known rock musician.

Schizophrenia can be very challenging but that doesn’t mean there is no hope at all. It can be successfully managed once the signs and symptoms are identified. With proper medical help and right treatment, a person with schizophrenia can lead a happy, fulfilling life.

Organizations Working for Schizophrenia:

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Everything You Want to Know About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder also referred to as manic depression, is a kind of mental condition where a person suffers from extreme shifts in mood. Here patients may spend weeks feeling like they are on top of the world and after some time they may feel depressed from everything around them. The duration of shifts in mood differs from person to person.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

According to Wikipedia, “Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder (historically known as manic-depressive disorder) is a psychiatric diagnosis for a mood disorder in which people experience disruptive mood swings”.

How many people suffer from bipolar disorder?

About 1 in every 100 adults has bipolar disorder at some point in their life. Both men and women are equally affected by this kind of mental problem. The problem usually starts during or after teenage years and in most cases; the symptoms can be noticed amongst people between 15 and 30 years old.

Main causes of bipolar disorder

There are very less information regarding the actual causes of bipolar disorder. But there are certain factors such as genetics, hormone and brain chemical imbalances and stressful life that can cause this kind of mental problem.

Genetics: According to some studies, it has been found that at time bipolar disorder can be due to genetic contribution also. People having someone in the family with bipolar disorder have a higher chance of having this problem in future. Till now the genes that cause this problem has not been identified.

Stress: Too much stress in life can also be the reason behind bipolar disorder. Stress can lead to drastic or sudden changes in mood which can trigger this kind of problem.
Hormonal imbalance: Whenever there are hormonal imbalances in the body, the chances of having the problem of bipolar disorder becomes higher.

Changes in the brain: Physical changes that take place inside the brain can also lead to this kind of mental problem. Especially, neurotransmitter imbalance can cause bipolar disorder. Neurotransmitter facilitates the communication between brain cells.

Traumatic event: Some kind of traumatic event may also be the reason behind bipolar disorder. Traumatic events can range from death of a loved one, changing location, losing a job to anything that can cause stress. 

Apart from these causes, sleep deprivation, abnormal thyroid function and circadian rhythm disturbances can also cause bipolar disorder. At the same certain medications, most notably antidepressant drugs can also be the reason behind this kind of mental problem.

What are the different types of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder can be of different types. It can be broadly categorized into three types –Bipolar Type I disorder, Bipolar Type II disorder and Cyclothymia.

Bipolar I Disorder

A person is suffering from Bipolar I Disorder where there is at least one manic episode or mixed episodes. The episodes can be with or without depression. However, most patients have had at least one depressive episode.

Bipolar II Disorder

A person is suffering from Bipolar II Disorder where there are one or more episodes of severe depression and at least one hypo manic episode. A hypo manic state is less severe than a manic one.

Cyclothymia

Also known as cyclothymic disorder, this is a milder form of bipolar disorder. It consists of cyclical mood swings. Here a patient suffers from numerous mood disturbances, with bouts of hypo manic symptoms which may involve periods of moderate or mild depression.

In order to diagnose the type of bipolar disorder, a doctor needs to keep track on how quickly a patient moves from manic episodes to depression and back again, as well as how severe the symptoms are.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The problem of bipolar disorder can cause drastic mood swings. A a person can have both extreme high feelings and low feelings. In between, a person also have periods of normal moods. These highs and lows periods are known as episodes of mania and depression. So, people with bipolar disorder show signs of depression and mania.

Signs during depressive episodes include:

  • Feeling of despair, hopelessness, or empty
  • Extreme sadness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • No interest in earlier activities
  • Loss of energy, fatigue and tiredness
  • Difficulty in concentrating, remembering and making decisions
  • Anxiety
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Irritation
  • Inability to experience pleasure

Signs during manic episodes include:

  • Feeling elated
  • Talking and thinking very quickly
  • Being easily distracted
  • Not eating properly
  • Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic
  • Getting impulsive
  • Sudden or extreme irritability
  • Imagining special connections with God, celebrities, or political leaders
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one’s abilities
  • Hyperactivity
  • Excessively risky behavior
  • Getting easily distracted
  • Underperforming at work or school

The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can look very different in different people. Some people are more prone to either mania or depression and at the same time some people can show equal signs of both mania and depression. At the same time some people will have frequent mood disruptions, while others will experience only a few over a lifetime.

Diagnosing bipolar disorder

A doctor or a psychiatrist can diagnose this kind of mental problem on the basis of self-reported experiences described by a person. At times behavior abnormalities noticed by family members, close friends along with secondary signs noticed by health care experts help in detecting the problem. A doctor goes through a list of criteria which includes the presence as well as duration of specific symptoms to come to a conclusion.

There are two popular criteria used by doctors to diagnose bipolar disorder. First one is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders given by the American Psychiatric Association. The second one is International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems prepared by World Health Organization.

After doing a physical examination, doctors also do a series of other tests to come to a solid conclusion. 

Treatment for bipolar disorder

Once diagnosed with bipolar disorder, a person needs extensive treatment. Bipolar disorder needs long term treatment. As it is a kind of chronic, relapsing illness, continuous treatment is a must. It is not like you can follow a treatment for a few months and stop it on your own. The treatment can be done by your family doctor or at times you may even need to see a psychiatrist too in order to control your mood swings and make sure you stay well.

Medications

Medications are very important in treating people with bipolar disorder. Medications known as “mood stabilizers” are usually prescribed to help control bipolar disorder as it can smooth out the feelings of low and high. Antidepressant medicine can help reduce the symptoms of depression. Antipsychotic drugs and anticonvulsant drugs are also prescribed. Once the mood swings are under control, patients are kept on maintenance medication to avoid re-occurrence of symptoms.

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy or counseling plays a very important role in treating bipolar disorder. Regular counseling sessions help patients to cope with their day to day work. Counseling can help patients to deal with stress, family concerns and relationship problems. There are different types of therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy and social rhythm therapy that are used in the treatment of bipolar disorder.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy is also used in the treatment of bipolar disorder. In this kind of therapy, electric current is used to cause a seizure in the brain. This therapy is used when a person suffers from severe symptoms. 

Medications and therapies are usually not enough to fully control the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Patients need to work on changing their lifestyle and there must be scope for social support also.

Self help for treating bipolar disorder

It is not that easy for people to deal with bipolar disorder. But by making smart choices and making useful changes in the lifestyle and daily habits, you can easily keep this kind of mental problem under control. Here are certain things that can help people suffering from bipolar disorder:

  • First of it is essential to gain appropriate knowledge. There are medical journals, websites and so on where you can learn about bipolar disorder. Gain as much knowledge as possible.
  • Make efforts to keep your stress in check. It is advisable to avoid situations that can cause stress. At the same maintain a balance between home and office works and take out time to practice relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
  • Do not lead on isolated life. You can always seek help from family members and close friends. You can always join a support group to get support and encouragement.
  • Try to lead a healthy life by getting enough sleep daily, eating a well balanced diet, regular physical activities and so on.
  • It is also essential to monitor your moods. Have a close eye on the symptoms and signs that shoes your moods are swinging. Try to control it before it starts. Tell your doctor about the early warning signs.
  • It is advisable to avoid caffeine and over-the-counter medicines for colds, allergies and pain. Also stop drinking alcohol or smoking.
  • Do not hide anything from your doctor. Share all of your symptoms, health history and family health history with your doctor so that he can prescribe you the right medicines.
  • Take your medicine every day, and without consulting your doctor do not make the mistake of not taking your medicines. The medicines and therapies need time and it is your doctor who can give you the right suggestions.

Famous People Affected by Bipolar Disorder

Here is a list of some famous people who suffer or suffered from bipolar disorder:

  • Adam Ant, British musician
  • Andrea Breth, German stage-director
  • Alastair Campbell, press advisor
  • Adrian Borland, British musician
  • Andy Behrman, author   
  • Barney Bubbles, graphic designer
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones, British (Welsh) actress
  • Dick Cavett, television journalist
  • Emilie Autumn, American musician
  • Frank Bruno, boxer
  • Graham Greene, British novelist
  • Iris Chang, historian and journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle
  • John Clare, poet
  • Jack Irons, drummer, formerly of Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Kurt Cobain, musician
  • Ludwig Boltzmann, physicist and mathematician
  • Maria Bamford, American comedian
  • Maurice Benard, actor
  • Mary Kay Bergman, voice actress
  • Mel Gibson, Australian actor and director
  • Neil Cole, former Australian Labor party politician
  • Patricia Cornwell, American crime writer
  • Quincy Carter, American football player
  • Russell Brand, comedian and actor
  • Rosemary Clooney, singer and actress
  • Sophie Anderton, British model
  • Stephen Fry, British actor, comedian and writer
  • Tony Slattery, actor and comedian
  • Vincent Crane, keyboard player of Atomic Rooster
  • Virginia Woolf, writer

Like all serious mental problems, bipolar disorder can have a huge impact on one’s life and relationships with others. Thus, people showing the symptoms of bipolar disorder must undergo treatment for a longer period of time. 

Organizations Working for Bipolar disorder:

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