Mental Health Awareness By Josh

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Bipolar disorder (sometimes called manic-depression) is an illness, a medical condition. It affects the normal functioning of the brain so that the person experiences extreme moods — very high and over-excited, or very low and depressed. The person may be affected so much that he or she experiences the symptoms of psychosis, and is unable to distinguish what is real.

Most people with bipolar disorder recover well from episodes of the illness. Up to 2 in a 100 people will develop bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.

What are the symptoms?

People with bipolar disorder can have a heightened sense of emotion or awareness, and also become extremely low, feeling helpless and depressed with difficulty making decisions or concentrating. Some people mainly experience highs, while others mainly experience lows, and some experience both extremes, becoming profoundly depressed or over-excited. The person may then behave in an uncharacteristically irrational or risky manner, becoming over-excited and reckless, or imagine that they are more important or influential than they are in real life.

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

The causes of bipolar disorder are not fully understood. As with other illnesses, they are likely to be a combination of hereditary and other causes, but a genetic predisposition to develop the illness has been clearly established by scientists.

How is Bipolar Disorder treated?

Treatment can do much to reduce and even eliminate the symptoms. Treatment would generally include a combination of medication and community support (or visiting a local psychiatrist). Both are usually essential for the best outcome. Certain medications assist the brain to restore its normal chemical balance and help control the mood swings and depression. The symptoms of bipolar disorder generally react well to medication. With community support programs, these include information; accommodation; help with finding suitable work, training and education; psychosocial rehabilitation; and mutual support groups. Understanding and acceptance by the community is also very important.

How do I find out more?

It is important to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have and have them explain any medications and other treatments available; how the different aspects of treatment would work; and the usefulness of clinical care and helping yourself.

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