If you live with someone who is afflicted with Bi-Polar Disorder (BPD) and exhausted from walking on egg-shells because it only takes one wrong move to “upset the apple cart,” then read on to find out more about this mental health disorder.

What is BPD

BPD, formerly called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypo-mania) and lows (depression). When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. People with BPD experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called “mood episodes.” Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person’s usual mood and behavior.

An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symptoms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. People with BPD also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode. Extreme changes in energy, activity, sleep and behavior go along with these changes in their mood. BPD can be controlled with medications and psychological counseling.

BPD Stats:

  • The number of individuals with BPD who commit suicide is 60 times higher than that of the general population
  • People who have BPD are at a higher risk of also suffering from substance abuse such as alcoholism as well as other mental-health problems
  • BPD is the ninth leading cause of years lost to death or disability worldwide
  • BPD is the fifth leading cause of disability worldwide

What causes BPD – As of now, the cause is not entirely known. Genetic, neurochemical and environmental factor’s probably interact at many levels to play a role in the onset and progression of bipolar disorder. The current thinking is that this is a predominantly biological disorder that occurs in a specific part of the brain and is due to a malfunction of the neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). As a biological disorder, it may lie dormant and be activated spontaneously or it may be triggered by stressors in life.

What are the genetic factors of BPD:

  • BPD tends to run in families. About half of the people have a family member with a mood disorder, such as depression
  • A person who has one parent with BPD has a 15 to 25 percent chance of having the condition
  • A person who has a non-identical twin with the illness has a 25 percent chance of inheriting the illness which is the same risk as if both parents have BPD
  • A person who has an identical twin (having exactly the same genetic material) with BPD has an even greater risk of developing the illness (about an eightfold greater risk than a nonidentical twin)

Who is most at risk to inherit BPD

  • A relative, such as a parent or sibling with BPD
  • A person who abuses drugs or alcohol
  • A person experiencing times of high stress (death of a loved one, losing a job, divorce)

Conditions that commonly occur with BPD – Those who have BPD may also have another health condition that’s diagnosed before or after the initial diagnosis of BPD. These conditions need to be diagnosed and treated because they may worsen existing BPD condition or make treatment less successful.

Treatment – Successful treatment of BPD depends on a combination of factors. Medication alone is not enough. In order to get the most out of treatment, it’s important to educate yourself about the illness, communicate with your doctors and therapists, including psychotherapy or “talk therapy,” have a strong support system, make healthy lifestyle choices, and this last one is so important…stick to your treatment plan.

Recovering from BPD doesn’t happen overnight. As with the mood swings of BPD, treatment has its own ups and downs. Finding the right treatment(s) takes time and setbacks happen. But with careful management and a commitment to getting better, you can get your symptoms under control and live fully.

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