Averagely people with bipolar wait 13.2 years for a diagnosis, often being misdiagnosed with depression. This is because bipolar is a condition where you suffer from both depression and manic episodes, swinging from one extreme to another. The misdiagnosis is considered by experts to be very serious because a survey reveals that people who suffer are 20 times more likely to take their own life.
The condition may also be called manic depression. The manic episodes make people who suffer feel happier and elated with life, they often feel more creative and have trouble sleeping. You’re more likely to spend money, on things you wouldn’t normally want or be able to afford. Manic stages can also lead to hearing things that aren’t there or believing things that aren’t true. Hypomania is another type of mania but it’s considered less severe. Often people view it as a positive experience, being more creative and happy. But if it’s left untreated it can lead to a more extreme form of mania.
It’s helpful to keep a mood scale alongside a mood diary. Writing down your moods you help keep track of them and you may even be able to notice patterns. You can download these for free at bipolaruk.org.uk
The depression periods are the opposite of manic. The most severe symptom is the suicidal tendencies attached which may be a result of feeling total worthlessness. There are many different kinds of bipolar depending on what your symptoms are and how extreme they are. Some people experience the stages for longer than others, whereas some have a more rapid cycle.
Rapid cycling affects 10- 20% of those suffering with bipolar. Despite there being equal figures of men and women diagnosis, women are much more likely to develop rapid cycling. Some patients experience four or more manic or depressive stages with rapid cycling, yet this can range to daily or weekly mood swings. Symptoms can appear at any stage but they can also disappear, whilst some people face this challenge their whole life. Unfortunately there is no cure for bipolar, although there are medications available which help control the illness.
There is evidence suggesting that there may be problems with the function of the nerves in the brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemicals responsible for how the brain functions. If one of these have high levels or low levels this can cause manic as well as depressive symptoms, consequently being a cause of bipolar.
Bipolar UK offers help and support to those affected by bipolar. It holds support groups across the UK for those diagnosed, pre-diagnosis and family members or carers. The groups are free and entirely confidential on a monthly basis providing support and encouragement from others in a similar situation.