Have your fiance read this post and it might help him understand it in fairly simple terms:
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Bipolar disorder is a chronic disease affecting over 2 million Americans at some point in their lives. The American Psychiatric Association's "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" describes two types of bipolar disorder, type I and type II.
In type I (formerly known as manic depressive disorder), there has been at least one full manic episode. However, people with this type may also experience episodes of major depression.
In type II disorder, periods of "hypomania" involve more attenuate (less severe) manic symptoms that alternate with at least one major depressive episode. When the patients have an acute exacerbation, they may be in a manic state, depressed state, or mixed state.
Everyone feels "blue" at one time or another, or "good" at other times. People who suffer from bipolar disorder, however, have pathological mood swings from mania to depression, with a pattern of exacerbation and remission that are sometimes cyclic.
The manic phase is characterized by elevated mood, hyperactivity, over-involvement in activities, inflated self-esteem, a tendency to be easily distracted, and little need for sleep. The manic episodes may last from several days to months.
In the depressive phase, there is loss of self-esteem, withdrawal, sadness, and a risk of suicide. While in either phase, patients may abuse alcohol or other substances which worsen the symptoms.
The disorder appears between the ages of 15 and 25, and it affects men and women equally. The exact cause is unknown, but it is a disturbance of areas of the brain which regulate mood. There is a strong genetic component. The incidence is higher in relatives of people with bipolar disorder.
In the manic phase the following symptoms can be seen:
In hypomanic episodes, symptoms are similar, but fewer and/or less intense. Delusions, (false beliefs based on incorrect information about external reality) if present, may be congruent with mood (such as delusions of grandeur, or a sense of special powers and abilities).
In the depressive phase patients may experience:
If delusions are present, they may be congruent with mood (such as delusions of worthlessness or accusing voices). In "atypical depression," patients sleep more than usual and have increased appetite.
Post Edited (psychnurse) : 5/17/2005 9:28:28 AM (GMT-6)
Songbird, I am so glad to see that you are gong on medicine - firstly, make SURE you have a competent doc! Not a GP, a real psychiatrist.
Putting BPs on SSRI antidepressants is a not recommended by most pdocs they usually cause mania or psychosis in us, if not that, other untoward effects. Especially without a mood stabilizer!!!!!
It's a very good thing your b/f wants to learn; my husband has become very knowledgable about it, too and I rely on him also to spot changes, problems, etc.
I wish you the very best - keep us posted, OK?