We all want to walk the good road, but sometimes there are hurts and hang-ups which divert our paths from healthful living. The key to living in a good way, then, is to understand the challenges some face and removing the negative stigma which often surrounds them. One of those challenges is a mental condition called bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression. It is a mood disorder characterized by exaggerated mood swings.
Everyone experiences ups and downs, but with bipolar disorder, you have extreme mood swings, or “mood episodes,” widely out of proportion or unrelated to what’s happening in your life. These swings can affect your thoughts, feelings, physical health, emotional health, behavior, and day-to-day functioning. Naturally, such symptoms can be extremely disruptive to your life and distressing to your friends and family. Symptoms that last for more than a week are known as “episodes.” Those who suffer from bipolar disorder experience four mood episodes: mania, hypomania, (depression), and mixed mood.
Manic episodes are characterized as elevated or euphoric moods, changes in activity levels, faster thinking and speaking patterns, lack of inhibition, irritability, unrealistic, or grandiose plans and beliefs. Risk-taking behavior may also occur. Hypomanic episodes involve having either a depressed mood or the loss of interest or pleasure in nearly all activities. When experiencing a depressed mood, you may lose interest in day-to-day activities, feel unusually exhausted, have no appetite, or adversely, have an increased appetite, and experience changes in your weight. You may also feel worthless or guilty and have difficulty concentrating. A mixed episode occurs when you experience both manic and major depressive symptoms nearly every day for at least a week. Your mood during a mixed episode may vary with the time of day.
It is important to realize that people with bipolar disorder are intelligent, creative, and capable of living full and productive lives. Part of walking the path of wellness is to not have negative thoughts or feelings about those who suffer from mental illnesses. If you feel you may have bipolar, it is important to talk to your parent or guardians and/or seek a doctor’s advice and care. Counseling, medication, and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle can help improve symptoms.
Acknowledgement: This fact sheet was originally developed by youth and staff at ReachOut.com, a website that helps teens get through tough times.
Misty Lynn Ellingburg (Shoalwater Bay) is a student at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in English (concentration Literature) and minoring in Professional Writing. She has two brothers and two sisters–Brandt, Shana, Hope, and Hunter. Her mom, Lory, is a Tribal artist, and her dad, Todd, is becoming fluent in Salish, a local Tribal language. Her favorite Native writers are Leslie Marmon Silko, Louise Erdrich, and Sherman Alexie. She even met Mr. Alexie in Seattle at a book reading where she got his autograph and a picture was taken together.