Bipolar Disorder is a disorder with episodes of mood swings differentiating from manic highs to depressive lows. The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain structure and chemistry may play a role. Manic episodes include symptoms like high energy, reduced need for sleep, and loss of interest in daily activities. Mood episodes last days to months at a time and they may also cause the person to have suicidal thoughts. Treatment is usually lifelong and often involves a combination of medications of therapy. There are different types of bipolar disorders and they all have clear changes in energy levels and your mood. There is bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders. Proper diagnosis and treatment can help people with bipolar lead healthy lives. Talking to a doctor is the first step for anyone who thinks they might have bipolar disorder. The doctor can complete a physical exam to rule out other conditions. If the problems are not caused by other illnesses, the doctor may send the person to a psychiatrist. Some bipolar disorder symptoms are similar to other illnesses which might make it hard for a doctor to make the right diagnosis. People with bipolar disorder are also at higher risk for migraine headaches and other physical illnesses. Sometimes a person with severe episodes depression can have psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations. The psychotic symptoms tend to match the person’s behavior or mood. As a result, people with bipolar disorder are sometimes misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. People with bipolar disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs or have relationship problems. Family or people experiencing symptoms may not recognize these problems as signs of a major mental illness. Scientists are studying the possible causes of bipolar, and most agree that there is no single cause. It is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase the risk for bipolar. Some research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar than others, but genes are not the only risk factor. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, and bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are much more likely to develop the illness compared to children who do not have a family history of that specific disorder. It is important that most people with a family history of bipolar will not develop the illness. Treatment helps many people gain better control of their mood swings and any other symptoms they may develop over time. Different types of medications can help control symptoms of bipolar disorder. A person may need to try many different medications before finding ones that work the best for them. Medications that are usually used to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers and antidepressants. There are four basic types of bipolar disorder, as stated in previous paragraphs. Bipolar I disorder is defined by manic episodes that last at least a few days. Usually, depressive episodes typically last at least two weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features are also possible. Bipolar II disorder is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes or hypomanic episodes. Cyclothymic disorder is defined by numerous periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years, one year in children and a second year in adolescents. Sometimes the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode. Bipolar disorder can be present even when mood swings are less extreme than others. For example, some people with bipolar disorder experience hypomanic. During an episode, an individual may feel very good, be highly productive, and function well. The person may not feel that anything is wrong, but family and friends may recognize the mood swings or changes in activity levels. As the illness becomes more serious, degraded performance shades into incapacity. The person will linger in bed, begin to be routinely late for work, be unable to make decisions or handle the workload on the job, and eventually will be considered as an unsatisfactory employee. The loss of a well-paying job is one of the worst things that can happen to someone with a mental illness. First, they have the loss of income, perhaps the main source of income in the family. Second, it may mean loss of medical insurance, which may be needed in weeks and months ahead. It is a serious blow to the self-esteem of a depressive, whereas a manic may not even feel the loss or even notice it. It is impossible to even guess the extreme amount of stress and pain that our current system produces for people having the misfortune to become mentally ill. One of the most important things that can be done within the existing system is to learn how to recognize mood disorders at an early age. My aunt Tabitha was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by her doctors when she was just a teenager. They believed it manifested out of severe stress which she had from her job as an Air Traffic Controller. She started losing sleep, and she would sleep maybe an hour and be extremely hyper the next twenty-three. She started getting angry and was so hateful and said and did awful things. She was irritable and anxious, and that went on for months. She started calling in sick to work because she could not function. Her daughter Makayla was making dinner at the age of six and seven. She would put blankets over her when she fell asleep on the couch and she would put herself to bed. My aunt later then attempted suicide. She lost her job, and now she is on disability. She is mediated now and is doing so much better, but she has been on fourteen different medications in two years. Tabitha is happily marrid now and has two kids. Makayla is now ten, and she had a son Named Toby who just turned two a few days ago, on December 5. Bipolar can affect everyone mentally and emotionally. The average reduction in life expectancy in people with bipolar disorder is between nine and twenty years, while it is ten to twenty years for Schizophrenia, between one and twenty-four for drug and alcohol abuse, and around seven to eleven years for recurrent depression. Tabitha is now in her thirties, and she is happy and healthy while living life to its fullest each and everyday. It is not just ups and downs. Mania for her is not good and happy like a lot of people think. It is dysphoric, so she might be really productive. She trained for a bikini competition while this was happening, but she was not happy. Her blood felt like it was boiling. But then during the depression, she just felt like a burden to everyone. Aside from all of that, she was not able to and still cannot focus and have a conversation; nothing holds her attention. She forgets everything and she would have one hundred thoughts running through her head all at once, and they would all come out together and make no sense. On top of the bipolar, she has unspecified anxiety disorder which is common for people with bipolar. It is painful. When she has an anxiety attack, she feels like she has to take all her clothes off and just have a blanket. Her chest gets tight and her stomach feels like she has been stabbed. She snaps at people for no reason and her hearing gets extremely sensitive so she cannot listen to music or people talking. She has to wear a mouthguard at night because she breaks her teeth from clenching down so hard from anxiety that is there for no reason. Bipolar really is a life affecting thing, and that explains it all. It can affect each and every person mentally and emotionally.