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The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Normal Ups and Downs

The Difference Between Bipolar Disorder and Normal Ups and Downs

Normal mood swings and bipolar disorder have great differences, but both can be serious conditions worthy of professional care

Everyone experiences emotional highs and lows, as life is full of both excitement and sadness. However, the chemicals that manage psychological function can become unbalanced, which can cause uncontrollable emotions. People may become clinically depressed or manic, and they may swing between emotional extremes. This condition, known as bipolar disorder, affects millions of people, but many people mistake it for normal ups and downs, so they respond in unhelpful ways. If you or a loved one experiences symptoms of bipolar disorder, then professional treatment is critical. Thus, understand the difference between this disorder and normal emotions to protect yourself.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The two poles of bipolar disorder are major depression and mania. Depression may yield the following issues:

  • Emotional numbness
  • Frequent crying
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Dietary changes
  • Feelings of self-loathing or hatred
  • Loss of interest in previously important relationships or activities
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Sexual dysfunction or loss of libido

On the other hand, mania may cause the following problems:

  • Irrationality
  • Sleeping very little
  • Overconfidence
  • Reckless behavior
  • Irritability
  • Thrill-seeking
  • Substance abuse

Some people with bipolar disorder experience brief transitional times, known as hypomania, in which they feel good and can control their behavior. These episodes are short lived, but they are harbingers of upcoming emotional swings. To be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, someone must experience several symptoms within the last year, and also for an extended amount of time.

Treating Bipolar Disorder

Once an official diagnosis of bipolar disorder has been made, an appropriate treatment plan may begin, which usually consists of medical care, education and counseling in an inpatient setting. While no silver-bullet treatment cures bipolar disorder, patients can learn to anticipate their mood swings to mitigate the damage. Bipolar disorder is will not clear up on its own, but many patients avoid treatment. While in a manic phase, they do not believe they have a problem; while in a depressive phase, they do not believe help is possible or that they deserve to heal. In other words, it may be quite a challenge to convince a bipolar person to accept treatment, but help is available for those who seek it.

How to Handle Life’s Normal Ups and Downs

Even if you do not have bipolar disorder, intense emotional problems can still be dangerous. Even otherwise healthy people can experience intense sadness due to the following issues:

  • Loss of employment
  • Financial challenges
  • Severe injury or illness
  • The death of a loved one
  • Divorce or separation
  • Persistent physical or verbal abuse
  • Lack of physical activity

Intense disappointment or loss can compel drug or alcohol abuse to feel relief, but this kind of substance abuse increases the likelihood that sadness will evolve into depression, a common symptom of addiction. Seek help to address your emotional problems as soon as possible.

Help Addressing Bipolar Disorder

If you would like to learn more about the difference between bipolar disorder and normal mood swings, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline now.

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