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BVHS Weekend Column: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder, by Christian Steiner, MD, Psychiatric Center of Northwest Ohio

Dr. Christian Steiner

“You are so bipolar.”

This is a common phrase that has entered colloquialism, typically in reference to a person whose mood changes rather rapidly for an array of reasons. Perhaps we see a friend transform from being angry and upset in the morning to happy and laughing in the afternoon, or a coworker or spouse become upset over something we view as trivial. While a person with two opposite sets of emotion would make this seem like bipolar disorder, this is not the case. Humans experience a spectrum of emotions daily. Any of us in retrospect could take audit of our emotions and find this to be true.

Bipolar disorder as a diagnosis is a serious condition that can impact the patient in many aspects of life. Clinically, the criteria for bipolar disorder diagnosis is given in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual” by the American Psychiatric Association. True bipolar disorder presents itself with symptoms such as rapid speech, going days without sleep or the need to sleep, excessive spending, impulsive sexual behaviors, hallucinations, paranoia and/or delusions. This diagnosis is arrived at after a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional.

It has been reported that as many as half of the patients who believe they have bipolar disorder actually do not. On the other hand, many individuals may have a bipolar diagnosis that go unrecognized. This can create a serious and hazardous scenario where patients are on medications that are not warranted.

Ultimately, if you or a loved one feels that a mental health condition is severe enough that you are giving it a name, it is probably time to seek out a mental health professional. Speak with your local psychiatrist for more information about bipolar disorder.

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