Do bipolar symptoms get worse with age?

Patricia Nees

Bipolar disorder, with its extreme mood swings from depression to mania, used to be called manic depressive disorder. Bipolar disorder is very serious and can cause risky behavior, even
suicidal tendencies, and can be treated with therapy and medication.

People who have bipolar disorder can have periods in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad, hopeless, and sluggish. In between those periods, they usually feel normal. You can think of the highs and the lows as two “poles” of mood, which is why it’s called “bipolar” disorder.

Bipolar is a progressive, organic brain disease. Also, bipolar disorder tends to get worse if it’s not treated. There is a chance that manic and depressive episodes will become more frequent and severe over time. Many people can
also expect more depressive episodes and fewer manic ones as they age.

I had been under a…

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is one of several types of sleep disorders. People who have sleep disorder sleep poorly at night because they stop breathing many times during the night.

It is associated with snoring during the night and ongoing fatigue, even when you have had a complete night’s sleep.

There are three types of sleep apnea:

• Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. The throat muscles relax during sleep, blocking the air passages.
• Central sleep apnea. This happens when the brain fails to send signals to the breathing muscles and you stop sleeping.
• Complex sleep apnea. This occurs when you have a combination of central sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea.

Signs And Symptoms Of Sleep Apnea

The signs and symptoms of the two major types of sleep apnea often overlap so it can be hard to tell what kind of sleep apnea you have. The major signs and symptoms include the following:

• Episodes where you stop breathing during the night. Others around you can often notice the problem.
• Snoring loudly, especially in obstructive sleep apnea.
• Waking up with a headache.
• Waking up with a sore throat or a dry mouth.
• Having problems with insomnia.
• Irritability during the day.
• Problems maintaining attention during the day.
• Excessive sleepiness in the daytime.

Causes Of Sleep Apnea

If you have obstructive sleep apnea, you are usually overweight and have excessive tissue in the back of your throat that relaxes during sleep, blocking off your airway causing you to stop breathing. The oxygen level in your blood goes down and you gasp, waking up a little and catching your breath. You usually don’t remember waking up.

This pattern can happen all night long, up to 30 times per hour or more. You don’t get enough sleep and you become tired during the day. Because you don’t remember waking up at night, you believe you have slept well.

If you have central sleep apnea, the brain doesn’t sent enough signals to the muscles of breathing so you simply quit breathing during the night. This can lead to having problems getting to sleep or staying sleeping throughout the night.
Risk Factors For Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea can happen to anyone at any age, including children. The major risk factors for developing the disorder include the following:
• Being overweight. If you are overweight, you have four times greater risk of having sleep apnea when compared to people who are of normal weight. You can still, however, have sleep apnea and not be overweight.
• Having a thicker neck. If your neck is overly thick, your airways are likely to be narrower. The doctor will measure the thickness of your neck to see if you are at risk.
• Having a narrow airway. You may have been born with an airway that is naturally too narrow. You may also have enlarged adenoids or tonsils, contributing to a narrow airway.
• Your gender. Sleep apnea is twice as common in men, although women have an increased risk following menopause.
• Your age. Older people have a greater risk of having sleep apnea.
• You have a family history. If others in the family have the disorder, you are at a higher risk.
• Using alcohol or sedatives. These things contribute to relaxation of the throat.
• Being a smoker. Smokers have a threefold risk of having sleep apnea.
• Having nasal congestion. If your nose is constantly plugged, you breathe through your mouth and this leads to having a blocked airway.
Treatment Of Sleep Apnea
If you have mild sleep apnea, you may be able to quit smoking, take allergy medication or lose weight in order to improve your symptoms.
CPAP, which stands for continuous positive airway pressure, is the main treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea. It is a device that is placed over your nose during sleep that delivers air to the air passages, keeping them open all the time. That way the muscles don’t relax and you get air throughout the night.
In some cases, the CPAP does not work and you need surgery. Surgery involves removing some of the excess tissue in the back of the mouth and on the soft palate. The uvula may also be removed as part of surgery to correct sleep apnea.
You stop snoring and you can sleep better throughout the night. Other types of surgery for sleep apnea include repositioning the jaw or putting in plastic rods in the soft palate. In rare cases, a tracheostomy needs to be performed, which involves putting a hole in the front of the neck for air to pass through.

Signs Of Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis is an inflammatory disease of the Central Nervous System which consist of the brain and spinal cord. It is also called the disease of the “white matter” tissue. White matter consists of nerve fibers which are responsible for transmitting communication signals both internally within the CNS and between the CNS and the nerves supplying the rest of the body. Multiple Sclerosis can be very slow in destroying your CNS, which is why it makes it hard to characterize. People who are affected by this disease have patches of damage called plaques or lesions that seem to appear randomly on the CNS white matter. Multiple Sclerosis never affects any two people the same way and each intervals disease is unique only to him or her, just like fingerprints. The body’s immune system attacks the outer nerve sheath or myelin , which causes scarring or sclerosis , and this scarring interferes with the transmission of the signals required for normal operation.

The most common symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis are sensory in nature including tingling, peculiar nerve sensations such as a “pins-and-needles” feeling over part of the body, numbness or paresthesias, clumsiness, weakness of a let or hand, visual disturbances. Recent research indicates that the biochemical make-up of lesions may vary between different forms of the disease, causing nerve damage to one site usually causes completely different symptoms than damage to another, and this is one of the reasons Multiple Sclerosis differs so widely between people. People with Multiple Sclerosis can experience partial or complete loss of any function that is controlled by, or passes through, the brain or spinal cord. Inflammation happens in areas of the white matter of the central nervous system in patches and destruction of myelin is soon to follow. Myelin is the fatty covering that insulates nerve cell fibers in the brain and spinal cord. Other weaknesses occur in one or more of the extremities, slight stiffness or unusual fatigue of the limb, spastic involuntary movements, difficulty with bladder control, incontinence, vertigo, and in some cases mild emotional disturbances. Excessive heat may intensify symptoms.

Because the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis vary and can be very unpredictable. It may affect the eyes first and usually only one eye at a time. One may notice blurred or double vision, blind spot, distortions of reds and greens, or blindness in both eyes. Certain muscles may become weak or extremely stiff and prone to spasms; you may start to have trouble talking because there are disturbance between the central nervous system and the rest of your body. Half of all patients with later stages of Multiple Sclerosis have problems with memory loss. Once a doctor suspects the disease he or she will order an MRI scan to look for signs on the brain and spinal cord. If you have any of the symptoms described here, go to your doctor and get checked out. The sooner you learn you have a disease, the sooner you can start fighting it.

What You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is becoming an increasing problem with a rising rate of occurrence. Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease, meaning it gets worse and not particularly better over time. It affects the area of the brain that is involved in language, judgment, and behavior.

This is the most common form of brain malfunctions or mental decline in older adults. Causing severe or mild memory loss, the adult may experience mood swings, personality changes, and the ability to think clearly, or even carry out normal daily routines without difficulty.

The person’s brain is not so mixed up that the person does not realize that there is a problem, but in most cases it is the family member who first notices changes. Still unclear why these changes occur, doctors have developed treatments to assist with the symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms include memory loss, confusion of time and day, frequently getting lost in familiar places, or trouble with learning and processing new information. The person may have a hard time expressing himself and may act out of frustration. Development of seemingly strange or odd behaviors may occur, like withdrawing from family or paranoid episodes.

If you have begun to notice similar odd behavior in an older relative or friend, you should consider Alzheimer’s as a very real possibility, though you should not panic or blow out of proportion. If it turns out that your worst expectations were true, then you will definitely be able to get the support and help that you need.

Forgetting how to perform basic tasks like washing clothes or bathing oneself will become increasingly common. It has been noted that some people with the disease in very late stages will forget how to walk and talk. As serious as this disease is, there is still no cure, but quality of life can be maintained with the help of others.

Keeping the person active by working on tasks that are easily completed and providing a safe environment under careful eye is the best way to ensure that they can still enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Treatments only include improving memory, dealing with behaviors that may develop and depressive medications. Older people with this disease are aware of what may be happening to them and can become saddened at their inability to perform basic tasks.

Because caring for a person with this disease is both financially and emotionally draining, it is important that the caregiver seek as much assistance as is available. In the early stages of the disease decisions about making your home safe for the person, tailoring tasks for the person, an assisting the person will be of great importance.

Monitoring behavior and constant checking of appliances used may be necessary. The person should begin planning for the future by handling all financial and final affairs while they still are able to think clearly and still make some decisions. Once driving privileges are revoked the person may need additional attention with dealing with immobility or simply grocery store runs and the like.

Later stages will mainly be with behavior problems and tasking problems for the individual. This is draining on the care giver as it will require more time and emotional input. Thus, the caregiver must remember to care for themselves and seek as much support as possible.

The main thing is to not give up hope and make the person quality of life good while maintaining your own health. Hang in there and try not to shoulder all of the responsibility by yourself. Enlist the help of family, friends, and those who may know the individual. All involved will need to lean on one another.

For more information and support related to Alzheimer’s disease, you should ask your doctor for information on any local support groups for people who have relatives afflicted with the disease. It is a great way to get rid of some of the stress that will surely accumulate.

 

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Postpartum Depression

There’s a new bundle of joy in the family and everyone is thrilled. But instead of enjoying the new phase of your life as a mom, you feel like crying. So, what is it to be depressed about? Believe it or not, postpartum depression happens and it’s not just the typical baby blues that most new moms experience. Women with a previous history of depression, history of severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder or those who do not get enough support from family and friends are at risk for postpartum depression. The first few weeks of the baby’s arrival can be very stressful. Most of us think that motherhood is all bliss and nobody is really prepared for sleepless nights and never ending diaper changes.
Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:
– Feeling lonely, helpless and hopeless for no reason
– Being overly sensitive or irritable
– Difficulty in concentrating
– Excessive crying or tearfulness
– Loss of interest in activities that are usually enjoyable
– Having a hard time falling or staying asleep
– Fatigue and lack of energy
– Changes in eating habits
– Headaches, stomachaches and backaches that won’t go away
It’s perfectly normal to feel a little blue out of exhaustion but if the symptoms don’t go away after a few weeks, it is very likely that the woman is suffering from postnatal depression. It is estimated that 10 to 15% of women suffer from this condition. With those numbers, we can safely say that postpartum depression is not a myth. Hormonal changes is one of the culprits for prolonged baby blues. Women who have just given birth experience a big drop in estrogen and progesterone. Their thyroid levels can also drop and this can result to exhaustion and depression. Combine these hormonal changes with changes in blood pressure and metabolism, you get postpartum depression.
Aside from rapid hormonal changes, some women get depressed because of the changes in their body. They may be experiencing physical pain from the delivery. Others feel insecure about the way their body looks. Pregnancy will cause tremendous changes in a woman’s body. It’s extremely difficult for some women to look in the mirror with a swollen belly that’s dressed with stretch marks. Another thing that can cause postpartum depression is the amount of stress that a mom experiences when caring for a newborn. Suddenly, there’s a tiny human being that fully depends on her. New moms do not get enough sleep and this can take a toll on their well-being. These adjustments can be overwhelming, causing a woman to feel the baby blues longer than expected. Postnatal depression is a type of clinical depression can affect a woman’s ability to care for her newborn child so it’s imperative to seek medical attention right away.

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