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Extreme mood shifts disrupt the lives of bipolar sufferers

Everyone experiences ups and downs in their moods and energy levels. For individuals with bipolar disorder, however, the highs and lows tend to be much more extreme and are often accompanied by a variety of other negative side effects. Commonly referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder causes disruptions in the brain which result in changes in one's brain chemistry that affect an individual's mood, energy level, thought process, behavior and overall effect.

The extreme shifts are categorized by episodes of mania and depression, the onsets of which are difficult to predict. While in a manic state, an individual often experiences feelings of euphoria which may also be tempered by irritability. During a manic state an individual has a lot of energy and may experience racing thoughts. The changes in brain chemistry often result in an individual seeking out and engaging in high-risk and dangerous behaviors.

A depressive state is often categorized by extreme feelings of sadness and hopelessness. An individual often lacks energy or motivation and may have difficulty thinking clearly or processing information. Additionally, in some cases, an individual may have thoughts related to or contemplate suicide.

Not surprisingly, individuals with bipolar disorder often have difficulty maintaining close personal relationships. Many are also unable to hold a steady job as the side effects experienced during both manic and depressive states affect an individual's sleep patterns, energy level and mood and also disrupt their ability to think clearly, process information and make decisions.

Scientists believe there are a number of factors at play in the development of bipolar disorder, including a strong genetic component and environmental influences. There is no cure for the disorder, but many sufferers are able to manage their episodes through a combination of prescription medications and psychotherapy.

Individuals who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder may qualify to receive Social Security disability benefits. Monthly income received via SSD benefits can be used to supplement living expenses and help an individual focus on getting help and learning to manage their disorder.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health, "Bipoloar Disorder," 2014 

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