What signs are symptoms are characteristic of bipolar disorder?
Characteristically, a bipolar disease patient alternates between bouts of mania or hypomania - the 'high' mood, and depression - the 'low' mood. However, the dramatic shifts in their mood, energy levels and behavior do not follow a defined pattern. The duration, severity and frequency of the mood episodes vary between individuals. It is possible for mania or depression periods to recur multiple times before the patient switches to the other mood. The mood episodes - alternative or repeated - may occur over a span of weeks, months or even years. The intensity of the episodes can also differ when the disorder gets detected early on and at a later stage. Common symptoms of mania include euphoria, increased activity or energy, excessive happiness, hopefulness, excitement, impulsiveness, sudden anger, irritability and hostility, poor focus and judgment, fast-paced speech, restlessness, increased sexual drive, less need for sleep, substance abuse, and making unrealistic and grand plans. Common symptoms of depression include reduced activity or energy, feelings of desolation, worthlessness and hopelessness, irritability, difficulty making decisions, uncontrollable crying, no longer discovering pleasure in things once enjoyed, trouble focusing, increased or decreased appetite causing weight loss or gain, insomnia or need for more sleep, pondering over death or suicide, and suicidal attempts. Bipolar disorder can affect children, adolescents and adults. Unusual mood abnormalities are the biggest warning signs of bipolar disorder. The precise cause is not yet determined. Genetic lineage and biological differences (physical changes in the brain of bipolar patients) are suspected to be the leading cause. Other risk factors include high stress and substance abuse. Bipolar episodes - mania or depression – can be triggered by changes in the sleep cycle or sleep deprivation, financial issues, drugs like corticosteroids or antidepressants, death or bereavement of a loved one, arguments with closed ones, and more.
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