What does Living with Bipolar Disorder feel like?

 10th Aug 2016

Bipolar is a specific and extremely prevalent type of mental health disorder which affects an estimated 51 million people worldwide.

So what does it feel like?

Mania and Depression

The underlying characteristics of most bipolar disorder cases are the feelings of mania and depression; however, not everyone will have the same experiences with this illness.

Although every person will experience highs and lows as a result of life’s natural ebb and flow, people living with bipolar disorder will be more severely affected by changes in their mood.

This can make it difficult for peers to relate to the condition as an individual’s reaction to an everyday situation may be far more intense than other people’s.

As many may be unwilling to discuss their condition with work colleagues and even close relatives, the reactions from unknowing people can further distance people living with bipolar from loved ones and peers.

For instance, stresses in the workplace which many people may simply deal with can produce more dramatic feelings for those living with bipolar disorder and may reach the point where time off work is required.

Extreme feelings coupled with regular fluctuations through the spectrum of mania and depression creates a challenging mind-set for people to live with and this can also affect their friends and family.

Bipolar can also make maintaining a relationship more difficult, especially for cohabiting and married couples.

Lifestyle Changes

Bipolar Disorder can also cause people to make irrational decisions which they may have not otherwise chosen.

For example, a person may begin to drive in a dangerous manner, spend an excess amount of money on lavish goods or even resort to taking illegal drugs in an effort to compensate for these spikes in mood.

Depending on its severity and the person’s willingness to seek help, bipolar disorder may entail the use of prescription medication or therapies to help a person deal with their symptoms and this may require continued use of medication over a sustained period of time to maintain stability.

Many of these can be extremely effective; however, antipsychotics, antidepressants, benzodiazepines and anticonvulsants can become a double-edged sword in some cases.

There are many side effects attributed to these medications and sometimes people report they find it difficult to like the person they become when they are taking their medication.  Many people feel there is a ‘flattening’ of their personality and they lack energy or feel anxious.

The Effects of Leaving Mania

Depression is often the most commonly highlighted facet of bipolar disorder; however, mania serves an equal portion of the condition for many people as well.

Surprisingly, mania can instigate feelings of surplus energy, elevated mood and even substantial improvements in the individual’s mood.

However, the reversion from mania back to depression is one of the more distressing aspects of the illness and can cause anxiety when a person enters a more optimistic state of mind as they become more aware of the condition’s cyclical nature.

The rate in which a person makes the transition between the two states can vary greatly too and those who experience four or more cases of manic, hypomanic or depressive episodes are classed as suffering from ‘rapid cycling’.

Whilst this classification applies to a minimum of four episodes in one 12 month period, some people may encounter mood swings as often as one day apart from each other.

In addition, these transitions are often irregular in their occurrence and there is rarely a set amount of time between them.

It should be noted that bipolar disorder affects everyone differently and no two people will have the same experiences.

Where one person may be able to cope well with their symptoms, requiring only minimal treatment, others may be more severely affected.

Regardless of its severity, bipolar disorder is a challenging condition to endure and those living with the illness should be treated with respect and empathy.

Encompass provides range of care services including supported living, respite care and day care support designed to improve the quality of life for people living with enduring mental health illnesses and learning disabilities.

Find out how Encompass can help you or a loved one by clicking here.

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