Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is characterized by significant mood fluctuations that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Bipolar disorder is a type of mental illness that results in drastic changes in a person’s mood, energy level, and ability to think rationally. People suffering from bipolar experience extremes of emotion referred to as mania and depression, which are distinct from the ordinary ups and downs that most people experience. When you are depressed, you may have feelings of sadness or hopelessness and lose interest or pleasure in the majority of activities. When your mood swings into mania or hypomania (a milder form of mania), you may experience feelings of euphoria, increased energy, or extraordinary irritability. These mood swings can have an impact on one’s sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and capacity to think effectively.

Mood swings might occur infrequently or repeatedly throughout the year. Between bouts, most people will have some emotional symptoms, but some may not. According to the WHO, over 45 million individuals worldwide are affected by this illness. The typical age of occurrence is around 25, however, it can develop in the teens or even in childhood. Males and females are equally affected by the illness. A person with bipolar disorder can also have manic phases without experiencing depressive episodes.

Bipolar disorder and associated disorders come in a variety of forms. They may include manic or hypomanic episodes, as well as depression.

  • Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by manic episodes lasting at least seven days or by manic symptoms severe enough to require immediate hospitalization. 
  • In contrast to Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder is marked by a pattern of depressed and hypomanic episodes, but not full-blown manic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder (also known as Cyclothymia) – characterized by episodes of hypomania and depression symptoms lasting at least two years (1 year in children and adolescents). 

Occasionally, a person may exhibit bipolar disorder symptoms that may not fall into one of the three categories given below, which is referred to as “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related diseases.” Bipolar II disorder is not a subtype of bipolar I disorder; rather, it is a distinct diagnosis. While manic episodes in bipolar I disease can be intense and frightening, those with bipolar II condition may experience prolonged depression, resulting in major impairment.

Causes and risks

Bipolar disorder has no recognized etiology, however, several factors may play a role. They include environment, biological differences in brain structure, and function, and genetics. Bipolar disorder is more likely in first-degree relatives, such as siblings or parents. Researchers are searching for genes linked to bipolar disease.

Signs and Symptoms

Bipolar symptoms might vary. But they entail mood episodes: Symptoms of mania episode include: elated or ecstatic Feeling jittery or energized, Having a short fuse or appearing impatient, Thoughts rushing and speech frantic, Sleeping less, thinking you’re special, talented, or powerful. Spending a lot of money, drinking excessively, or engaging in dangerous sex, all of which reveal a lack of judgment.

Symptoms of depression episodes include sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness. Loneliness or social isolation Slowly speaking, feeling speechless, or forgetting a lot Lacking energy, Oversleeping, Overeating or undereating. Inability to complete simple tasks and lack of enthusiasm in routine activities; Suicide or death thoughts.

A mixed episode is characterized by the coexistence of manic and depressed symptoms. For instance, you may feel incredibly depressed, empty, or hopeless while also feeling extremely invigorated. Certain individuals with bipolar illness may experience lesser symptoms. For instance, you may suffer from hypomania rather than mania. With hypomania, you may feel quite terrific and find that you are able to accomplish a great deal. You may have the impression that nothing is wrong. It’s possible, however, that you’ll be noticed by those closest to you. They may notice that your action is out of character for you. Following hypomania, you may have extreme depression.

Individuals diagnosed with bipolar illness may also suffer from co-occurring disorders such as anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders/dual diagnosis. Bipolar patients with psychotic symptoms may be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. Bipolar disorder is also frequently mistaken for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).

Prevention and treatment

There is no foolproof method of preventing bipolar disorder. It is important to get treatment as soon as a mental health illness is detected. Preventing modest symptoms from becoming major mania or depression: Take note of warning indications. Managing and monitoring symptoms early can help prevent worsening episodes.  Involving family or friends in spotting red flags. Avoid using drugs or alcohol– consumption of alcoholic beverages or recreational substances can exacerbate your symptoms and increase their likelihood of recurrence.

There are numerous strategies to treat and manage bipolar disorder: Psychotherapy–including cognitive behavioral therapy and family-focused therapy–can assist you in identifying and altering troublesome emotions, ideas, and behaviors. It can provide you and your family with assistance, information, skills, and coping mechanisms. Consult your physician about drugs such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications, and, to a lesser extent, antidepressants.

Bear in mind that while bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, long-term, consistent therapy can help reduce symptoms– enabling you to maintain and live a healthy lifestyle.

References

Mental Disorders. (2019, November 28). Mental disorders. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-disorders.

Bipolar Disorder: MedlinePlus. (2021, September 22). Bipolar Disorder: MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/bipolardisorder.html.

NIMH » Bipolar Disorder. (n.d.). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder.

Bipolar Disorder – Symptoms And Causes. (2021, February 16). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955.

Bipolar Disorder | NAMI: National Alliance On Mental Illness. (n.d.). Bipolar disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder.

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