Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder
Most people experience natural fluctuations in mood, but when mood swings go beyond normal extremes, it may be a sign of bipolar disorder. At Serenity Psychiatry of Beverly Hills, Dr. Samer Kamal works with patients to diagnose and treat bipolar disorder in Beverly Hills, CA.

Bipolar Disorder Q&A

by Samer Kamal, MD

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder, sometimes known as manic depression or manic-depressive disorder, is a mental illness characterized by extreme fluctuations in mood, from manic to depressed. During manic periods, individuals experience high energy, feelings of powerfulness, and impulsive behavior. This eventually transitions into the opposite, a deep depressive state, with feelings of fatigue, worthlessness, and intense sadness. Left undiagnosed and untreated, bipolar disorder sufferers often find it difficult to lead normal lives and may struggle with maintaining employment and relationships. Fortunately, this is a treatable condition with a good prognosis for those that seek help.

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

The defining symptom of bipolar disorder is periods of highly elevated mood, mania, followed by periods of deeply sad mood, depression. Symptoms of a manic state can include euphoria, irritability, high activity, talkativeness, inflated self-esteem, impulsiveness, and unusually high levels of energy. Symptoms of a depressed state can include feelings of sadness and helplessness, poor self-esteem, low energy, poor concentration, too much sleep or inability to sleep, and suicidal thoughts.

The length of these periods varies from person to person, with some swinging between the two states frequently, while others stay in a given state for months. Some patients experience periods of normal mood between highs and lows.

What causes bipolar disorder?

As with many mental disorders, the precise cause of bipolar disorder is not known and may vary from person to person. There seems to be a genetic component, as this disorder often runs in families, though environmental factors such as traumatic life events and drug abuse likely also play a role.

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

Bipolar disorder is diagnosed through an evaluation with a mental health professional, considering occurrence and duration of symptoms.

How is bipolar disorder treated?

Medication is the primary treatment for bipolar disorder and can often be paired with therapy and lifestyle changes to boost the success of treatment. Dr. Kamal works with patients to determine the most effective medication and treatment plan for their unique biology and personal needs.

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