Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a complex brain disorder that involves sudden mood shifts from high to low. These dramatic mood swings, known as episodes, are referred to as stages of mania and depression. Bipolar disorder affects over five million Americans. It most frequently develops in late adolescence or early adulthood, but may begin during childhood as well.
Episodes of bipolar disorder can last for days, weeks or months. Symptoms of each phase may be mild or severe but can include:
- Change in appetite
- Loss of interest
- Suicidal thoughts
- Increased energy
- Aggressive behavior
- Decreased need for sleep
- Increased sexual drive
- Inability to concentrate
The severity and frequency of these symptoms are classified into different types of bipolar disorder. The cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic, biological and environmental factors.
If left untreated, bipolar disorder will worsen and can eventually lead to suicide. It is important to see your doctor if you experience symptoms, especially suicidal thoughts. Treatment usually includes mood stabilizing, antidepressant or anti-seizure medications and psychotherapy. Since the disorder is recurring, long-term treatment is usually recommended to maintain a balanced mood. Long-term treatment can help make this potentially life-threatening disease manageable. Talk to your doctor at the first sign of symptoms to help treat bipolar disorder.
Marriage or couples counseling, helps couples, married or not, work through their conflicts and improve their relationship. These sessions allow for better communication and a way to talk through problems in a calm and balanced setting. Marital counseling can help couples to openly address significant events like infidelity, divorce, abuse or unemployment. It can also be beneficial for addressing day to day issues like communication, sex, anger, parenting and financial problems. It is important for couples to choose a professional psychologist who you feel comfortable with, and to commit to working on your relationship with this person. Your relationship may seem much improved just after a few sessions, however, it is important to stay the course, as many couples may have complex or individual, preexisting issues that may take longer to resolve or make progress. Through dedication, honesty and compromise, your relationship can benefit tremendously from well-supported techniques learned through couples therapy.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that can develop after witnessing or personally experiencing a traumatic life event that may have caused physical harm to someone. These events may include assault, sexual abuse, unexpected death, house fire, an accident, war or a natural disaster.
Certain reactions are natural after these stressful types of events, but they should decrease and eventually go away over time. People diagnosed with PTSD continue to persistently experience these reactions, sometimes in increasing and intense amounts, long after the event, and in such a way that it causes significant distress in their daily lives. Symptoms of traumatic events can include:
- Bad dreams
- Recurring scary thoughts
- Feeling worried or guilty
- Increased arousal
- Feeling alone
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling restless
- Feeling angry
If these symptoms are not resolved within four weeks of the traumatic event, and lasts for more than six months or gets worse over time, you may be suffering from PTSD. These symptoms can be effectively treated with the help of a trained psychologist.