Bipolar Disorder, also known as Manic Depression, involves episodes of mania and depression, with periods of stability. Manic episodes are characterized by elevated energy levels, restlessness, feeling of nothing can go wrong, and high self-confidence; while depressive episodes are the exact opposite: low energy, sluggish, sadness, and feeling of hopelessness. Occasionally, people suffering from Bipolar Disorder can suffer more severe symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking.
Although they do not know the exact cause of Bipolar Disorder, researchers believe that biologic, genetic and environmental factors are all involved in causing and triggering episodes of the illness. Evidence suggests that an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain is the culprit. Episodes can last weeks or months.
For two years I live with a 16 year-old girl named Nicole who had Bipolar Disorder. I witnessed several episodes ranging from calm to severe.
A calm episode would usually consist of only the manic stage. She had about 7 calm episodes while she lived with me. In reality, calm episodes are just episodes caught in enough time so that an adjustment of her medication was able to stabilize her.
In a more severe episode, Nicole would usually decline mentally over a 7-day period, at which point she would need to be hospitalized.
Nicole's behavior during a severe episode included wild mood swings: from extreme happiness to anger to sadness; disorganized thinking: she was unable to follow conversations, and would make inappropriate statements; and cutting depression: she tried to kill herself 4 times.
Nicole's illness affected her life completely. Having spent her most of her life in and out of hospitals she was unable to attend school on a regular basis. She had few friends because she was embarrassed to tell them about her condition.
Nicole eventually left our house during a severe episode. She became paranoid that we were trying...
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