Bipolar Disorder
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Learn about the causes of Bipolar Disorder & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Bipolar Disorder within New Zealand.

Bipolar disorder is a condition affecting moods. Sufferers of Bipolar disorder experience cycles of extreme mood swings from depression (feeling low) to mania (feeling very high). Extremes can last a period of weeks interspersed with long periods of calm. Depressive episodes can have symptoms of reduced concentration, hopelessness, withdrawal, suicidal thoughts and loss of sleep and appetite. Episodes of mania are euphoric with periods of excessive spending, eating, creativity and activity.

Causes of bipolar disorder  Bipolar Disorder | The Wellness Directory

The cause of bipolar disorder is unclear but the condition is thought to be triggered by genetic, environmental and social factors. 10 to 15 per cent of the close relatives of people with the condition also have the disorder.

While stress can trigger periods of depression and episodes of mania in a bipolar sufferer, it is not the cause of the condition. Physical and emotional problems as well as overwhelming thoughts or problems faced in day-to-day life (such as finances, work and relationships) can also trigger episodes of mania or periods of depression.

Bipolar disorder causes changes to the chemicals in the brain (known as neurotransmitters) and understanding how this affects bipolar sufferers may be the key to treating the condition.


Symptoms of bipolar disorder 

A severe change in mood is the main symptom of bipolar disorder and this can range of mania (extreme highs or happiness) to depression (extreme lows or sadness). Episodes can last for days or weeks and in some cases involve rapid cycling whereby the mood swings from high to low very quickly with no state of normality in between.

During episodes of mania (highs) the symptoms can involve:

  • Extreme elation, happiness or euphoria
  • Rapid talking
  • High energy levels
  • Being full of your own self-importance
  • High levels of creativity or forward planning
  • Agitation or irritability
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Poor appetite
  • Shopping sprees (even when finances do not allow)
  • Indulging in pleasurable activities which may result in dire consequences
  • While in periods of depression (lows) symptoms may include:
    • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
    • Low energy levels
    • Lack of concentration
    • Poor memory
    • Disinterest in day-to-day activities
    • Feelings of guilt and despair
    • Pessimism
    • Self-doubt
    • Sleeping problems
    • Suicidal thoughts
    Manic phases for a bipolar sufferer can often be experienced with little or no awareness of the episode and they perceive others as having a negative reaction to their behaviour. Once the mania has passed, the individual may become shocked by their actions.

    The frequency of manic phases and periods of depression can vary from person to person and as such certain people with the condition may find developing relationships or holding down a job difficult. In severe cases there is a risk of suicide.

    During highs and lows, a bipolar sufferer may experience sensations such as strange sights or smells (hallucinations) or become delusional and believe in things which are irrational to others (psychotic episodes).


    Diagnosis of bipolar disorder 

     If you, or someone close to you, suspects bipolar disorder then a visit to a GP is essential so you can be referred to a mental health specialist such as a psychiatrist. The specialist will assess your condition by questioning you about your symptoms, thoughts and feelings.

    They will ask about any family history of mental health issues or if a close relative suffers with bipolar. If this is the case, the specialist may need to talk with them but only with your agreement.

    You may also need to take some tests to determine if there are any physical problems such as thyroid disease. Medication to treat bipolar disorder may cause certain side effects such as weight gain so it's important to regularly visit your GP who will monitor your overall health.


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