BY JOSEPH HANNA
WE ALL have mood
swings. Some days,
we’re happy, energized and motivated.
Other times, we’re less
optimistic, more irritable and feeling overwhelmed. Having ups
and downs is a normal
part of life. But for people with bipolar disorder, these emotions
are experienced on a much more ampli-;ed level and can a;ect day-to-day activities and relationships with others. Let’s
explore this condition and learn the signs.
What is bipolar disorder?
It is a type of mood disorder that a;ects
about ; to ; per cent of Canadians. People
with this condition experience deep depression followed by days of extremely high
moods, known as mania.
A manic episode consists of an abnormally and persistently elevated mood
with three or more symptoms like racing thoughts, distractibility, overly high
self-esteem and reckless behaviour for at
least one week. A depressive episode consists of feeling down for most of the day, or
loss of interest or pleasure for at least two
weeks, in conjunction with other symptoms like agitation, changes in sleep or
appetite, and feelings of hopelessness.
Other types of episodes include hypomanic episodes, which resemble mania
but are less severe and shorter in duration.
There are di;erent types of bipolar disorder, depending on the nature and severity
of the episodes.
Who is more likely to get it
and how is it diagnosed?
The exact causes are unclear, but it
tends to run in families. It a;ects people of
all ages and tends to ;rst appear in young
adults. It’s normally diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist after the person
completes a series of questionnaires and
lab tests to rule out other conditions.
How is it treated?
Some medications, referred to as
mood stabilizers, are e;ective treatment
options. There are a number of di;erent
types, and each helps to keep moods more
stable. A mental health specialist will work
with the patient to select the option that
works best for them. If an episode is severe
enough, hospitalization may be required.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
can help manage mood changes. A trained
CBT specialist can teach skills to help
change how the patient views the world
and that can allo w them to cope better with
the negative emotions of depression and
the destructive behaviours of mania.
Joining a support group with others
who are battling bipolar disorder can also
help people feel less isolated when trying
to live with this condition.
A lot of question marks still surround
bipolar disorder, and living with it isn’t
easy. If you think you or a loved one may
have it, speak to a doctor right away. With
the right management and people to support you, you can improve your overall
functioning and start living again. C
Pharmacies in Costco’s Quebec locations are independently owned and operated by pharmacists.
Bipolar ups and downs
B.Sc. Phm., CDE,
CGP, is director of
lifestyles have made
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