What is Bipolar Disorder? A Planetary Analogy
Imagine the planet Earth. On top you’ve got the north pole; on the bottom you’ve got the south pole. The equator is located in the middle. Now let’s pretend the north pole represents an extreme emotion like euphoria while the south pole represents depression and hopelessness. The equator? That’s a neutral zone between the two extremes.
For many people, the equator is where they spend most of their time. When something good or exciting happens, their happiness allows them to migrate toward the north pole. Conversely, when something bad or depressing happens, they may shift toward the south pole. In both cases, though, these people will gradually return to a more neutral zone near the equator.
For individuals struggling with bipolar disorder, finding that neutral zone is not so easy.
What Does Bipolar Mean from a Medical Perspective?
According to Mayo Clinic, bipolar disorder—formerly called manic depression—is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings ranging from emotional highs (mania or hypomania) to often debilitating lows (depression). If you or someone you care about is suffering from bipolar disorder, the symptoms can manifest in a variety of troubling ways. Even worse, many cases of bipolar disorder go undiagnosed or untreated, causing unnecessary negative consequences for the individuals affected and the people they care about.
Bipolar I vs. Bipolar II
We’ll have more information about the difference between bipolar I and II in a future post. But for now, here’s some basic info to help you get started.
- Bipolar I – This type of bipolar disorder is the one most commonly associated with extreme fluctuations in mood, from mania to depression.
- Bipolar II – This type of bipolar disorder is characterized by less intense periods of mania (called hypomania) and periods of severe depression that can sometimes overshadow the other symptoms to such an extent that a correct diagnosis is much more difficult.
Common Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
It’s impossible to seek treatment for a health condition you don’t even know you have. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering: “Do I have bipolar disorder?” take a few moments to review these bipolar disorder signs. Please keep in mind, only a medical professional can formally diagnose the condition, but if you or someone you care about exhibits these symptoms, it could be time to seek help.
- Sudden, unexplained mania: heightened activity; difficulty sleeping; overly euphoric mood; risky behavior, rapid speech; racing thoughts
- Sudden, unexplained depression: feeling excessively sad, anxious or guilty; loss of interest in pleasurable activities and hobbies; difficulty focusing
Seeking Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
If you think you could have a problem with bipolar disorder, the first step to getting better is to seek a professional diagnosis. This is the best way to identify not only the presence of bipolar disorder, but also co-occurring conditions like generalized anxiety or addiction to drugs and alcohol. Learn more about how the experts at Growth Extended can help you or a person care about recover from bipolar disorder and live a happier, healthier life. Or, contact us today to get started.