It is estimated that four percent of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives. Unfortunately, the majority of people (an estimated 82.9 percent) with bipolar disorder experience serious impairment, the highest percentage of serious impairment among all mood disorders.
While relatively few people experience the disorder, it can be helpful to understand it in the event that you or a loved one ever need to seek treatment.
The Mayo Clinic defines bipolar disorder as “a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).” While there is no “typical” case, patients report deep depressions, where they feel sad, hopeless, and lose interest in most activities. When that depression lifts, they may feel extreme feelings in the opposite direction – euphoric, full of energy, or unusually irritable. These mood swings may affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and the ability to think clearly.
Some experts are beginning to find that there is a range of how people experience bipolar disorder – a spectrum where one end is unipolar (serious depression) and the other end is bipolar I (bipolar disorder). What exists in the middle is characterized as the bipolar II spectrum , a wide variance of symptoms that are unique to each person.
Although bipolar disorder is considered by many to be a lifelong condition, patients can manage mood swings and other symptoms by following a treatment plan – usually including medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy).
According to the Mayo Clinic, bipolar treatment may include:
The side effects from the medications listed above can vary greatly from drug to drug and patient to patient. Some commonly reported side effects may include:
Always speak with your pharmacist or doctor if you experience any side effects from a medication.
Staying on your medication as prescribed, or medication adherence , is a huge part of treating bipolar disorders. Regardless ofwhether or not you have health insurance , there are many resources available to help you and your family afford critical medications.
One of the easiest ways to save money on mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and other bipolar medications, is to download an Rx drug discount card to use every time you visit the pharmacy. Most prescription discount programs, including FamilyWize, are completely free to use and can help lower your medication costs significantly. FamilyWize helps patients save an average of 45 percent on their prescriptions.
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