Mental Health

Bipolar disorder, also commonly known as manic depression, is a brain disorder that causes shifts in a person's mood, energy, and ability to function. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can result in damaged relationships, difficulty in working or going to school, and even suicide. There are generally periods of normal mood as well, but left untreated, people with bipolar disorder continue to experience these shifts in mood. The good news is that bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder can cause dramatic mood swings-from high and feeling on top of the world, or uncomfortably irritable and 'revved up', to sad and hopeless, often with periods of normal moods in between. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.

Depression is a serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Depression has a variety of symptoms, but the most common are a deep feeling of sadness or a marked loss of interest or pleasure in activities. Other symptoms include:

  • Changes in appetite that result in weight losses or gains unrelated to dieting
  • Insomnia or oversleeping
  • Loss of energy or increased fatigue
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Feelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide or attempts at suicide

Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects more than one percent of the population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration, and lack of motivation. However, when these symptoms are treated properly, a large portion of those diagnosed will greatly improve over time.

The complexity of schizophrenia may help explain why there are misconceptions about the disease. Schizophrenia is not synonymous with split personality or multiple-personality disorder. Most people with schizophrenia are not dangerous or violent. They also are not homeless nor do they live in hospitals. The majority of people with schizophrenia reside with family, in group homes, or on their own.

While research has shown that schizophrenia affects men and women equally and occurs in similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world, its symptoms differ from person to person and can fluctuate over time. When the disease is active, it can be characterized by episodes in which the patient is unable to distinguish between real and unreal experiences.


There are several subtypes of schizophrenia, depending on the most prominent symptoms. As with any illness, the severity, duration, and frequency of symptoms can vary; however, in persons with schizophrenia, the incidence of severe psychotic symptoms often decreases during a patient‘s lifetime. Not taking medications, use of alcohol or illicit drugs, and stressful situations tend to increase symptoms. The symptoms fall into three categories:

Positive symptoms
Hallucinations, such as hearing voices, paranoid delusions, and exaggerated or distorted perceptions, beliefs, and behaviors.

Negative symptoms
A loss or a decrease in the ability to initiate plans, speak, express emotion, or find pleasure.

Cognitive symptoms
Confused and disordered speech, problems with memory, trouble with logical thinking, and difficulty paying attention and making decisions.

Symptoms usually first appear in early adulthood. Men often experience symptoms in their early 20s and women typically first show signs of the disease in their late 20s and early 30s.


Nerves allow your body to feel temperature, pain, and other sensations. Over time, the effects of diabetes can harm the nerves in the legs, feet, arms, or hands. The damaged nerves can become overly sensitive, to the point where the slightest movement or light touch of the skin can trigger intense pain. This condition is known as diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain or DPNP.

Common symptoms of DPNP include burning or shooting pains, often in the feet and legs, and increased sensitivity to touch in those areas. Others symptoms include the loss of sensation, numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Fibromyalgia is a common and chronic disorder. It is not a progressive disease and is not fatal nor will it cause damage to joints, muscles or internal organs.

For unknown reasons, between 80 to 90 % of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are women; however, men and children can also be affected. It also tends to run in families. Fibromyalgia is most often diagnosed in middle age, but it can affect all age groups.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread muscle pain, fatigue and multiple tender points, but some people may also experience sleep disturbances, morning stiffness or headaches. Other symptoms may include:

Irritable bowel syndrome

Painful menstrual periods

Numbness or tingling of the extremities

Restless legs syndrome

Temperature sensitivity

Cognitive and memory problems (sometimes referred to as fibro fog)

Fibromyalgia can be difficult to diagnose and treat. There are a number of medications available that can help in the management of the condition.

A health care professional can provide information on the treatment options available as well as an exercise and lifestyle plan to minimize the impact of fibromyalgia.

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