Bipolar Disorder – Happy but Sad

Two Extremes

James felt at the moment a euphoric state with no explanation for the cause. He felt a spike in energy levels, and every task seemed easily conquerable. His focus was however, wavering and he did feel little restless. But still that didn’t seem as a concern. After all, he felt extremely excited, and that was more than enough.

Few hours later, James sank into a deep Depression. He felt isolated and his thoughts started getting disoriented. The world suddenly appeared in shades of grey, and the life ahead seemed hopeless. He contemplated suicide, as a way to end the nightmare.

The above scenario can seem confusing to us. It is completely strange that a person who, few moments before, in the peak of happiness suddenly drop down, into a negative spiral of thoughts. That too,without use of any drugs or mood enhancers.What James was experiencing can be coined in psychiatric terms, as Bipolar Disorder.

Symptoms

Bipolar Disorder is mainly characterized by two distinct phases. The affected person switches between these phases in rapid succession, usually in an hour or so.The First phase exhibits Hyper Activity

1. Intense sense of Euphoria.

2. Restlessness.

3. Difficulty concentrating.

4. Grandiose sense of self worth.

5. Racing thoughts.

6. Prone to taking extreme risks, like gambling or raised sexual activities, all which involves low consciousness level.

7. Less amount of sleep, or insomnia.

Then few moments later, the person switches to the next phase, which is the Depression Mode.

1. Feeling sad, unworthy and hopeless. Crying uncontrollably due to these triggers.

2. Low energy, disinterested in activities or the job at hand

3. Less to more sleep, due to fatigue.

4. Decrease or increase in appetite.

5. Irritability attitude which can cause friends and families to question the reason, behind the sudden change.

6. Contemplating Suicide thoughts.

Causes

Bipolar disorder can be caused by certain triggers which the person gets exposed to, at present or earlier in life.

They include, but not limited to

1. Tension at work place or home environment.

2. Seasonal changes can also cause mood swings.

3. Traumatic life experiences like a failed love affair, unfulfilled desires or a childhood experience.

How to Identify and Treatment Methods

Why is this disorder mostly hidden, compared to anxiety or depression? It is because the affected person do not realize, that he is indeed suffering from a psychotic ailment.

Taking the case of James, as mentioned earlier. He still believes what he is experiencing, might be just the ups and downs of life. He considers the mood swings, just a continuation of the same. However if left untreated, Bipolar Disorder can escalate to clinical depression or even suicide attempts.

One diagnostic option would be to keep a track of the mood swings.

Keep a journal noting down the time of the mood swings, what happens during the same, and what triggers it.

With this method, we have identify the hidden pattern through which we can ascertain, whether there is a presence of this disorder, or is it just anxiety or panic attack.

If any doubts left or getting the feeling of suicidal thoughts, immediately consult your local physician, or a psychiatrist.

Anti depressant medicines and proper counselling can help a long way, in the recovery phase.

Source: Bipolar Disorder – Happy but Sad

Goals and Predefinitions

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All Self help Books do inspire us to set definite Goals. They are the holy Grail when it comes to personal development. Page over page is simply dedicated to assess our inner strength, likes and inclination. With these core beliefs, we set a realistic goal to pursue.

But after the enigmatic start, by the end of the week, most of us find it hard to move from square two.

Sure we have everything on paper, with detailed plans and worked out layout. Then the status quo enters and the plan is halted.

The reason behind this sudden change can be zeroed onto the following.

  • Status Quo – Can be easily defined by Newton’s third law ( Every body remains in a state of inertia or rest until an external force is acted upon it. ) . From a psychology study conducted few years back, it was seen that when volunteers were given an option for a change, which provided maximum benefits, they still wanted to go back to the old situation which had drawbacks, but was more familiar in nature .
  • Too Big a Goal – This is one of the main hurdles which can occur when we are establishing a goal, for the first time. The goal to become a professional bodybuilder within 3 months is indeed, little over the edge.  Too small a time to make big changes to the body, is not possible, unless you use steroids or hormones. This in turn can become counter productive.
  • A motivational Support – A road to your desired results will take you through uncharted territories and risky obstacles. So when we fall down, it is very important that the impact can be cushioned, by a pillow of love. At times family and friends can provide that support. Again at this internet age even if friends are few, you can rely on online support groups, psycho therapy websites and chat forums.
  • Benchmark and Deadline – A very important aspect of Goal making but almost overlooked. Without marking a time span or a vague deadline, procrastination will set in which can delay your goals considerably. Also one of the obstacles we commonly encounter is the fear of being proven wrong and not able to get back on our feet, after a decade of trying. With a solid deadline, we can counter this worry and still get the best of both worlds

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Epic Parables

kurukshetra war fought between two princely clan, Pandavas and Kauravas, played a major role in defining ancient as well as modern India. Based on the Sanskrit scriptures, it marked the transition to Kaliyuga, the final phase of the world, by Indian Yuga cycle. The battle ground was kurukshetra, now a city in the state of Haryana, India. The war went on for a period of 18 days, bringing about much changes in its aftermath.

The duel was for the legitimate acquisition of a kingdom, which belonged to the Pandavas, but was now under the control of Kauravas. As negotiation talks failed over either side, the battle was a definite and unavoidable outcome.

Based on Vedic scriptures, many vows, revenge and even Mukthi or freedom, leading to enlightenment, occured during this transition phase. The kurukshetra war brings out lessons on how to sidestep pitfalls in life and ingrain success.

Fear none,  Compromise on none, on the Path to Destiny 

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On the eve of battle, Arjuna, of the Pandava clan seeing the enormity of responsibility over him, shudders. With teary eyes, he refuses to budge or pick up his weapon. Sensing the dilemma , Krishna takes his Sudarshana Discus and  prepares instead, to lead the war.

Arjuna stops him in time, falling face down on the God’s feet. Krishna thus advise,” Arjuna is a Kshathriya (Warrior by nature) and it is his prime duty to avenge any form of injustice, through warfare above all means.”

Sometimes we also move away from the path of true calling, be it due to external influences or pressing circumstances. As mere mortals, we like Arjuna would surely get dejected and lower our destiny bow. However as Krishna states, we are all born to fulfill our inner self and bring out the true potential, when the situation demands it.

Crookedness and Patience , combination traits to beware

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Shakuni, the maternal uncle of Duryodhana  was the principle driving force behind the kurukshetra war. Shakuni secretly harbored untold grudges against the kauravas. One of them, his only sister Gandhari  getting married to the blind king, Dhritarashtra.

But since the opponents were too powerful and mighty to avenge directly, Shakuni switched to a new tactic. He slowly befriended his nephew Duryodhana, and started creating a rift between the karuavas and Pandavas. With deadly tools like jealousy, anger and lust, he was able to increase this gap, leading to war and eventually, demise of the kauravas.

The hard morale, beware of crookedness and patience in the guise of friendship, as they can break down even the most fortified foe.

Falling back Necessitate as Strategy to Success

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Karna, considered the offspring of God Surya (Sun), had an invisible protective shield surrounding him, known as kavacha and kundala.  With this force by his side, he would be victorious against all enemies and a perfect ally to Kauravas.

Knowing about this, God Indira disguised as a Sage, asked Karna to donate this immense power. Karna though fully aware of the trickery, parted with the kavacha and kundala. Indira moved by the selfless act, granted the weapon, Vasava Shakti or Indra Astra, to karna.

Krishna knew that if this weapon was ever used against Arjuna, a counter attack would not be possible. So Arjuna was skillfully moved back and instead Ghatotkacha, a half demon half man being was brought in to the fight. Ghatotkacha was a skilled sorcerer, who could change his size as well as appear invincible for a long period. Knowing there was no other way, Karna used Indra Astra and killed the being in no time. But now the weapon had been used, he was back again to square one, and Arjuna resumed battle. This eventually lead to Karna being killed, when his chariot got stuck in the mud.

Truth can only be experienced, not theorized

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This brings us to yet another great warrior of the kaurava army. Known as one among the Maharathis, Drona was a skillful warrior and brilliant strategist. His mastery over archery was so profound, that it was believed no one could kill, let alone injure, when the the bow and arrow was in his hands.

This made him a truly strong adversary to the Pandavas. The task of annihilating Guru Drona fell upon the hands of Yudhishthira, the eldest of the Pandavas.

In the midst of battle, an elephant bearing the name of Drona’s son, was killed and Yudhishthira called out “Ashwathama is dead.”

Hearing these words, without even checking the validity of the statement, and a strong belief that Yudhishthra never lied, Drona lowered his weapon and sat in grief. Seeing this opportunity, another warrior named Dhrishtadyumna moved in to the kill and beheaded Drona.

Always verify an incident and take all other opinions however great the person maybe, at face value.

When emotions go haywire

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Recently I came across a colleague of mine, who had worked with me couple of  years back. For anonymity, I would call him Mark. Mark had been a role model employee, who was considered by his seniors, as both hardworking ,dependable and reliable. It seemed with these traits, he was destined to climb the corporate ladder and assume a managerial position, in no time.

However Mark did have an overlooked flaw, which was short spells of anger. At times, Mark would lash out harshly and vehemently. This did put small strains in his  social circles. But since the outbursts didn’t last long, it raised no caution flags and the matter was quietly overlooked.

As I met him now, it was not in the ideal settings of a manager’s office. If given an option, it was in a place many would avoid. Mark was in a packed courtroom, awaiting trial for multiple charges of assaults.

His minor spells of anger seemed to have escalated to a new high, where the person everyone once knew  had become a shadow of the former self. Now the person in front of me, was depicted as a homicidal maniac. His career as well as family life, collapsed within a short  frame of time.

Can a minor emotional flaw, impact a person to such a level, bringing about changes not only psychologically, but physically as well.

Lets ascertain the facts, to check the validity of the above statement.  Recent cases of anger has indeed been scientifically related to primary depression. Even though depression symptoms might vary from sadness, to low energy and sleeplessness, anger can at times play a silent factor.

Traumatic childhood experiences, abusive parents or recent tragedies can leave a large emotional gap, which can over time build up in one’s psyche. A person experiencing an outburst of anger, would have his judgement clouded with high mental spikes. At that instant, there would be no logical thinking patterns and also high level of stress hormones flooding the body. The various acts performed by the individual during this period, would be totally different from the personality projected, by the same.

But are emotions like anger, really needed or is it a glitch imprinted into human beings.

Emotions at times, do help us in an unpredictable situation (fight or flight response produced by adrenaline), having empathy and consideration to a friend’s plight ( absence of which can result in having psychopathic nature ) or even when avoiding past mistakes, which is projected by emotional fear.

For example, as described earlier, when we face a life threatening situation, our body prepares itself for the fight or flight response.  At that point, chemical messengers such as adrenaline enters the body system, which increases heart beat and breathing rate. The pupils of the eye dilate resulting in tunnel vision, and body muscles tighten in response. The brain then interprets these sudden changes, and assess the gravity of the situation as immediate priority, to be dealt with.

There are number of theories which explain the origin and causes of emotions, such as James  Lange , Cannon Bard and Schacter-Singer models. They do describe that emotions brings about both physical and psychological changes in an individual, which are necessities, to differentiate ourselves as humans.

So the merits of emotions are indeed there. However a normal human mind is fragile, by nature and any emotional contents, in excess can tip the balance to either sides.

Picture Credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Anxiety- When things go haywire

One of the most common psychological nemesis after depression, is anxiety disorder. It is one of the silent stalkers, who hides behind a veil of false illusions, ever deceiving it’s victim’s mind.

The flight or fight response has been programmed into human brain, since time itself. When we encountered a life threatening event, such as a pack of wild animals or a natural disaster, our body gets triggered onto this specific state.

In this situation, we can either defend and ward off the attackers ,or if we have no options left, run away from the scene. For this our body prepares, by making some chemical and biological changes. Increased acceleration of heart beat and more oxygen intake into lungs, constriction of blood vessels,  relaxation of bladder and tunnel vision are some of the notable changes.

Fast forward to modern times. There are no more wild animals or persistent natural calamity to threaten us.  But still a majority of us feel the effect of the flight or fight response, at times. Mostly this stage would be temporary and leaves without much notice. But for some it becomes a consistent sequence, which can occur even for the most minor life issues. This state in medical terms is diagnosed as, Generalized Anxiety Disorder or GAD, in short.

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder

GAD is the repetitive and persistent worry, about even the minor details of our day to day life. The worry is excessive in nature, and usually associated with unrealistic scenarios projecting into our mind.

Symptoms

  • Of course, the most common symptom is the excessive and irrational thinking, followed by visualizing the worst case scenario
  • Restlessness or unable to focus on a particular task
  • Frequent headache, which can also result in a migraine
  • Tensed muscles and profuse sweating
  • Easily distracted
  • Edgy behavior. Easily getting startled
  • Insomnia

Causes

  • Unpleasant childhood experiences, brain trauma or death of a loved one, can result in a emotional gap, which can later manifest into GAD
  • Genetics do play a minor role in GAD. If there is a psychological illness within a family member, the chance of this being passed to the next generation can be a possibility.

Treatment

  • Mindful awareness techniques such as deep breathing, power yoga has been proven to reduce the symptoms associated with GAD.
  • Reduce intake of caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea or carbonated soda, which can produce spikes in one’s  thought process.
  • Aerobic exercise such as short walks, jogging and light weight training exercises, can help release serotonin in the brain, which is feel good hormone, associated with mood alleviation.
  • Anti depressant drugs provide relief from excessive worrying. But make sure to consult a psychiatrist before entering treatment, and refrain from over the counter medication.

 

Carving the Path to Enlightment

It is the dream of every individual born to this planet, to reach one’s ultimate potential. Through eastern mystics eye it would translate into having total control over mind and body, transcend desires, sufferings and reach the ultimate peak of enlightenment.

However it seems the more important, that we go through the other phases of life, before embarking on this divine journey. Buddha, the enlightened master proved this point with his own path.

Buddha was born Siddhartha, a prince who had all the luxuries a young man earned. Palaces where built for him, based on the changing seasons in a year. Musicians, Courtesans and fine wine flowed into his youthful days, with grandiose and awe. Family and friends surrounded him, praising his abilities and underplaying the inferior notes.

But when the time was ripe, Siddhartha understood all the good wills that encompassed him, were mere imaginations and he shunned the same, to ultimately emerge as Buddha, the awakened one.

Now the question remains, why can’t we take the big leap to freedom, at this very moment, instead of enduring years of fantasies or torments, chasing the silver winged butterfly, which never did exist. This is a perplexing state where we feel that the creator is a sadist, who as a silent spectator acknowledges the ultimate, only when we fall face down to obscurity.

The answer seems to be as strange as the question. To dive into its finer details, would be to project a life event.

On the way back from work, you stop at a nearby book stall.  Through the window sill you perceive the best seller with the title “Are you in the right career”. Something suddenly blinks in your mind. You start co relating your career experience with your inner psyche. Of this the probability would be three results. The best, lukewarm or the worst career choice.

How is it that we are able to ascertain the conclusions in a matter of minutes. Pinpointing each and every challenge we faced with possible reasoning for the same.

Experience do plays a major role in providing the clearer picture, than those based upon theoretical  assumptions. Moreover, only after we lived through an event or life experience can we be the better judge of the same.

Consider  a mystic stating the world to be an illusion or Maya, which to an untrained eye would simply pose  a perplexing question. How can this grandeur of beauty, the life supporting ecosystem be simply be pushed aside as non existent.

Looking from the other side of the spectrum, would it make sense that the mystic was simply urging, that our mind which is constantly changing its opinions, is the illusion and not the world we live in.

In short, to reach formidable conclusions and judgement of any perceived reality, requires a previous dialogue of the same event