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Bipolar disorder, or manic-depression, is a type of mental illness that involves a disorder of affect or mood. The student's mood usually swings between overly "high" or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, with periods of normal mood in between. Bipolar disorder usually begins in late adolescence, often appearing as depressing during teen years. Since faculty and staff are in a position to observe and interact with students, they are often the first to recognize a student in distress. Look for a pattern of these indicators:
- Decreased need for sleep
- Reckless behavior such as spending sprees, erratic driving, rash decisions
- Extreme irritability and distractibility
- Excessive “high” or euphoric feelings
- Increased energy, activity, restlessness
- Racing thoughts, rapid speech
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Inability to sleep or oversleeping
- Persistent sad and/or anxious mood
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Thoughts of death or suicide
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Decreased energy, fatigue
- Inability to concentrate, make decisions
- Speak directly to the student about your concerns and be concrete in describing the behavior that concerns you.
- Encourage the student to make an appointment with a counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services to explore what might be causing her/his distress.
- If the student is not in a state to be reasoned with (manic, distorted thinking, psychotic), contact Counseling and Psychological Services to consult on how best to proceed to help the student.
- Minimizing the seriousness of the student's presenting behavior.
- Making demands that the student see a professional (she or he may be feeling great and not realize anything is wrong).
- Becoming involved with the student beyond your level of expertise.
- Ignoring signs of suicidal tendencies. Loss of interest or pleasure in activities.
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