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Frequently Asked Questions:

Bipolar Disorder



What is bipolar disorder?

A. In Western Medicine Bipolar Disorder is believed to be a chemical imbalance in the brain causing fluctuating mood swings from manic highs to suicidal lows. It is also known as manic-depression. There are two types of Bipolar Disorder, type I and type II. Type I struggles with mania followed by depression while type II struggles with hypomania followed by a depression.



What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

A. Taken from


Symptoms of Mania:

- A persistent elevated mood

- Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic

- Feeling extremely irritable

- Unrealistic, grandiose beliefs about one’s ‘powers’ or abilities

- Sleeping very little, but feeling extremely energetic

- Talking so rapidly that others can’t keep up

- Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next

- Highly distractible, unable to concentrate

- Impulsiveness and impaired judgement

- Acting recklessly without thinking about the consequences

- Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases, known as ‘psychosis’)


Symptoms of Depression:

-Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty


-Inability to experience pleasure

-Fatigue or loss of energy

-Physical and mental sluggishness

-Appetite or weight changes

-Sleep problems

-Concentration and memory problems

-Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

-Thoughts of death or suicide



What is hypomania?

A. Hypomania is a lesser form of mania. The symptoms of hypomania are almost identical to the symptoms of mania, the key difference is in the severity. Mania is dangerous because people can endanger themselves or parts of their life. When someone is suffering from mania they can feel elated. In that state they often want to feel more elated. An example is going shopping, racking up credit cards, spending hundreds of dollars a person doesn't have to spend. Or feeling so elated that they feel no harm could come to them, not even if they walked head first into traffic. Mania often requires psychiatric hospitalization. Hypomania on the other hand does not always require hospitalization, even though it can cause harm to the person or their lifestyle. A person experiencing mania buys 20 pairs of shoes, while a person experiencing hypomania buys 10.



Is bipolar disorder dangerous?

A. Bipolar disorder can be life threatening. When suffering from depression a person could take their own life. When a person is suffering from psychosis or paranoia they could be considered dangerous to others. These are the incidents that often make the news. But just because somebody is suffering with psychosis or paranoia it does not classify them as being a threat to society. The largest signal that a person may become a threat to others (if they are mentally ill or not) is if they have committed a violent act in the past. 



What is psychosis? And what is drug psychosis?

A. Psychosis means psychotic, which is a very broad term but in general refers to delusions and hallucinations. ‘Drug psychosis’ simply means going psychotic because of the use of drugs.



What are delusions and hallucinations?

A. Wikipedia: A delusion is a false belief held with absolute conviction despite superior evidence. An example of a delusion would be for someone to believe they could walk head first into traffic with no harm coming their way.

B. A hallucination is to hear, smell, see or experience through your bodily senses something that isn’t there. An example would be how a person suffering from psychosis may experience hearing voices.



What are the treatment options for bipolar disorder?

A. I don’t know all the treatment options for bipolar disorder. A few options I do know about are pharmaceutical medications and cognitive behavioral therapy. Other areas I believe affect mental wellness are diet, incorporating exercise, getting a good nights sleep and having connection with others, yourself, animals, nature and your higher power (if you believe in one). 



In your ‘About Me’ section you mention stigma, what is stigma?

A. Stigma is a negative judgement upon the attributes of a person that cause people to devalue or think less of that person. People may distance themselves from individuals who are in stigmatized groups as well as they may discriminate against them. 

Stigma often arises with individuals struggling with mental illness and with those struggling from addiction. Those who struggle with these issues may be perceived as weak, incapable, or “less than” because of their symptoms. 



Is there hope for those struggling with bipolar disorder?

A. Bipolar disorder is a serious illness which can take years to find the right therapy and medication combination. Bipolar disorder can be life threatening, but there are many treatment options available with new treatment options on the horizon (please talk with your family doctor to know more). There are also many support groups available for friends, family, and those suffering from the illness itself. So yes, there is hope for those struggling with bipolar disorder.




To find a list of mental health resources, please click here. To know more about bipolar disorder or for any other mental health questions email me or contact your family doctor.



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