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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bipolar mood swings can be predicted

It is possible to predict future mood swings in bipolar people by monitoring their thoughts and behaviour. People with bipolar disorder suffer from extreme mood swings that veer between moments of emotional highs and euphoria to deep depression.
Manic depression (as it used to be known) has never been discussed so avidly. Consequently, ways to manage the disorder have become ever more high profile.

Last month Reuters reported that actress Catherine Zeta Jones had been treated for bipolar II disorder after the stress of husband Michael Douglas’s battle with advanced throat cancer. The news caused many to wonder what this illness was all about.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness marked by sharp mood swings and erratic behaviour while bipolar II is a milder form of the disorder and is marked by less manic “up” moods but more depressive episodes.

The elevated moods are clinically referred to as mania or, if milder, hypomania. The current term "bipolar disorder" is of fairly recent origin and refers to the cycling between high and low episodes (poles).
The disorder has been subdivided into bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and other types, based on the nature and severity of mood episodes experienced; the range is often described as the bipolar spectrum.

The primary line of treatment tends to be pharmacotherapy or the use of medications to help stabilise these mood states. Along with pharmacotherapy, using psychoeducational and psychotherapeutic models to guide treatment helps in dealing with the illness, the effect it has upon the individual and the families.

A glimpse into a few lives lived between the extremes of elation and depression reveal the simple yet often dismissed truth about bipolar disease: that it is still possible to live on, and live well.
Researchers followed 50 British patients with bipolar disorder for a month, studying how they think and act. Individuals who believed extreme things about their moods - for example, that their moods were completely out of their own control or that they had to keep active all the time to prevent becoming a failure - developed more mood problems in a month's time, it was found. In contrast, people with bipolar disorder who could let their moods pass as a normal reaction to stress or knew they could manage their mood fared well a month later.

The findings are encouraging for talking therapies - such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) - that aim to help patients to talk about their moods and change their thinking about them.

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