One of the many unpleasant aspects about Bipolar l, or ll if it comes to that, although the latter isn’t so serious, is that the poor sufferer has to endure not just the manic stage of the illness, but also the depressive stage.
To reach this from the manic stage, the patient must suffer going through the Bipolar Disorder Spectrum, of which there are five stages. As we’ve seen, the spectrum is bracketed by severe mania and severe depression. In between, we have hynomania, which is mild mania, a normal, balanced mood and mild depression.
However, during this spectrum, there’s what’s known as the mixed state. The patient will experience depression and mania at the same time. They are quite likely to have psychotic episodes and resort to suicidal thinking. They may feel energized, even euphoric, be unable to sleep and have considerable changes in their appetite.
Unfortunately, the Bipolar condition cannot be diagnosed either through blood work or through a brain scan. Doctors resort to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, fourth edition. (DSM-IV).
In the depressed stage of the Bipolar Disorder Spectrum, patients may become suicidal and of course this is something to be watched for very carefully. An early diagnosis is vital, because allowed to go untreated, the risk of suicide escalates alarmingly.
Suicidal symptoms to watch out for are if the person starts talking about suicide or death, voicing a wish to die, if they’re obviously feeling hopeless and that nothing at all is ever going to improve in their lives. They may start to abuse alcohol and drugs or you find them putting their affairs in order. They may even put themselves in harm’s way by driving much too fast, and generally taking unnecessary risks.
Probably the worst aspect of this condition is that it’s usually lifelong. However, there are medications now that can afford people a generally decent life and of course the research goes on. Brain imaging techniques now are prevalent, and three in particular are used.
There’s the Magnetic Resonance Imaging method, (MRI), the Positron Emission Tomography, (PET), and the functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, (fMRI). While it’s been shown that the brains of patients suffering from Bipolar disorder are definitely different from those of healthy people, the actual reasons for it, let alone a cure, remain elusive.
Treatment is usually in the form of therapy and mood stabilizers. A doctor will probably suggest that you keep a chart or a journal of the different moods you suffer throughout the day, their duration and severity.