Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that affects approximately 2% of the population in the United States today. This disorder causes frequent, severe shifts in mood – from mania to depression. Oftentimes people will misdiagnose it as a small problem, not the serious one that it is. For this reason, it is important to recognize bipolar disorder's symptoms and get a diagnosis from a psychologist.

Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder

Some of the most common bipolar symptoms include:

  • Feelings of extreme elation and deep depression that occurs at the same time
  • Large variations in work quality and output
  • Periods of great optimism that are either followed or preceded by periods of great pessimism
  • Periods when you are overly happy or sad
  • Racing thoughts
  • Extreme irritability
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

Anyone who experiences these symptoms should talk to a psychologist in order to get a proper diagnosis. Since there is not a definitive test (ie blood test, brain scan) for bipolar disorder, diagnosing it can be a complicated process that requires the skill and experience of a licensed psychologist.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

In order to reach a diagnosis you will be interviewed by a psychologist. Herein your family history will be looked at since it is believed that bipolar disorder is a genetic condition. Of course, the psychologist will also want to know about your current symptoms (ie concentration level, mood, reasonability ability, memory, ability to interact with others) as well. Blood tests and a brain scan may be used to rule out other illnesses with similar symptoms such as drug abuse, stroke and brain cancer.

Treating Bipolar Disorder

There are a lot of great benefits to an early diagnosis. This is especially true whenever you consider that 15% of bipolar patients attempt suicide and 60% abuse drugs or alcohol at some point in their lives. Once diagnosed, there are a lot of different prescription medications available for treating this disorder. Since it is primarily thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in your brain these medications will be used to correct this. Psychotherapy is also helpful when used with these medications. All of this will allow you to live a “normal” life even though there is no cure for bipolar. Even so, this is thought to be really good news for those who are afflicted by this disorder as many of them will otherwise find that their lives are strictly interrupted.