Men and women are equally likely to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. This mental illness has no gender preference, but the symptoms in men are often spotted at an earlier age, leading to diagnosis and treatment. This is because women usually have longer bouts of depression, while men are more likely to become aggressive during a manic episode.
Occasional acts of aggression and mood swings are usual for most people. However, when the behaviour is destructive or harmful, if it goes too far or interferes with relationships and the workplace, it's time to seek help.
Bipolar disorder causes a person to revolve between both ends of the emotional spectrum. From mania, the highly active and energetic state, to depression, the low feelings of sadness and vulnerability. Recognizing when actions and behaviour have gone beyond the healthy norm is the key to early diagnosis.
Manic Episodes in Men
A sense of pride or ego is common, as is the need to be the provider or the protector. However, unusual behaviour or eccentricities that the person feels is rational and normal are a warning sign that all is not well. A man might be experiencing a manic episode if:
• He is very talkative and speaks quickly and too loudly.
• The man gets by on very little sleep, has an elevated level of energy and stays up at
night working on projects, watching television or working on computers.
• He is overly aggressive, easily offended by others and becomes indignant when challenged. Often quit to anger.
• He exhibits an overinflated ego and has a sense that he is smarter, stronger or otherwise better than everyone else around him.
• The man is quick to get into arguments or physical altercations. More likely to engage in violent behaviour.
• Illusions of grandeur persist, a sense of self importance and that others cannot function without him.
• He expresses unusual ideas that defy rationality. He may also act on them, such as thinking he is smart enough to outwit a roulette wheel, for example.
• May take on ambitious projects, regardless of skill level, such as restoring a vehicle. • Likely to participate in risky behaviour, such as reckless driving or speeding.
• Has difficulty maintaining balanced relationships, often causing trouble in personal relationships as well as workplace relationships. Might have difficulty keeping a job; either because he becomes agitated and quits or becomes overly aggressive or threatening and as a result his employment is forcibly terminated.
• Often the man has difficulty acknowledging authority in the workplace or with the law.
• He displays aggressive sexual tendencies.
Depressive Episodes in Men
Men who are afflicted with bipolar disorder will also experience extended periods of depression. A man could be experiencing a depressive episode if:
• He is reluctant to participate in social engagements, regular sports activities or spend time with family and friends.
• He sleeps more than usual, often napping during the day.
• His speech is slower, his movements are more deliberate and he seems to have little or no energy.
• He feels worthless, expresses regret about the past, seems to have no hope for the future. Exhibits a sense of being resigned.
• Has general feelings of sadness, loneliness and negativity.
• Cannot concentrate, has difficulty focusing and unable to complete tasks. Might forget about appointments or plans.
• He withdraws from personal relationships and avoids intimacy.
• Entertains thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
Symptoms of depression in men are often kept hidden, while manic episodes are more overt. During the elevated levels of mania, the actions of a man with bipolar disorder become more obvious to those around him, and he is more likely to be confronted regarding his behaviour. In fact, young men especially are more likely to have brushes with the law or other authority, which often leads to a bipolar diagnosis. Treatment for men with bipolar symptoms will include a drug regiment to control the mood swings and counselling or therapy to prevent emotional highs and lows from overwhelming him.
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