Essential Facts About Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar disorder is a common brain disorder.
- It can happen to people of any age group, but it generally starts in adolescence or early adulthood.
- Bipolar disorder can happen to people of any gender, races, and ethnic groups.
- More than two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder have someone in their family with the condition.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also called Manic Depression, is a mental disorder that features extreme mood swings. It includes frequent episodes of depression. You can also experience an extremely elevated mood.
People having bipolar disorder can have periods in which they feel very happy, super excited, and filled with immense energy, and other periods that leave them completely hopeless and disheartened. The time between these two periods is quite reasonable for them.
You can think of the extremities of highs and lows in mood as two different poles, and that’s the reason why they are given the name “bipolar disorder.”
People with bipolar disorder may experience difficulty in performing regular life tasks at school or work. They may also have trouble maintaining a relationship with anyone. There’s no cure yet discovered for the disorder, yet there are many treatment alternatives that can help manage the symptoms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder?
There are three significant symptoms of bipolar disorder – Mania, Hypomania, and depression. Have a look at the common symptoms a person experience in all three states:
Mania – Mania can make you feel emotionally high. You will feel terribly excited, euphoric, impulsive, and lively. During the manic episodes, you can also involve yourself in certain activities such as:
- Drug use
- Unprotected sex
- Spending sprees
Hypomania – It is linked to bipolar II disorder. It causes the same, but less severe symptoms as mania. Hypomania differs from mania as it doesn’t interfere with the regular activities at school or work.
Depression – The episodes of depression can make you experience the following symptoms:
- Loss of energy
- Deep sadness
- Lack of interest in activities that you once cherished
- Too much or too little sleep
- Suicidal thoughts
It sometimes becomes challenging to diagnose bipolar disorder because of the varied symptoms it causes in different episodes.
Symptoms In Men
Men with bipolar disorder may:
- Be diagnosed earlier in life
- Experience substance use issues
- Have more severe episodes of mania and depression
Symptoms In Women
There are nearly equal numbers of cases of bipolar disorder in both men and women. Although the prime symptoms of the condition may differ between the two genders. In most cases, a woman may:
- Develop bipolar disorder in her 20s or 30s
- Have less severe episodes of mania
- Experience more episodes of depression than mania
- Have an elevated risk of alcohol use disorder
- Experience other conditions as well, including anxiety disorders, obesity, migraine and thyroid issues
- Can have more than four episodes of depression and mania in a year
What Are The Types Of Bipolar Disorder?
There are three main types of bipolar disorder which are listed below:
- Bipolar 1: This type of bipolar disorder happens when a person experiences manic episodes persisting for about seven days or more, which may also require immediate hospitalization. The person can also experience a major depressive episode that continues for about a couple of weeks. You can go to the doctor if any of these circumstances.
- Bipolar 2: It involves both mania and depression. Although less severe episodes of mania occur than in bipolar one disorder, you can have a significant depressive episode either before or after the manic episodes.
- Cyclothymic Disorder: Also called cyclothymia, and accompanies the symptoms of both hypomania and depression. It lasts for about one year in children and two years or more in adults. These symptoms cannot be classified fully as a manic episode or a depressive episode; they feature somewhere between the two and can be referred to as mixed episodes.
Bipolar Disorder In Children
Bipolar disorder in children is uncertain. It is because children don’t exhibit similar symptoms as adults. Their moods and behaviors are also not comparable to that of adults.
A wide range of bipolar disorder symptoms children experience may overlap with the symptoms of other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
But now various health experts and medical professionals are capable of recognizing the symptoms in children.
Like adults, children also experience elevated moods, which makes them appear very happy and show excitable behavior.
- Having trouble concentrating or focusing
- Talking very fast or frequently changing subjects
- Acting overly happy or very silly
- Doing risky things
- Having a short temper that causes quick outbursts to anger
- Having difficulty sleeping or feeling not at all tired after a sleep loss
- Either sleeping too much or too little
- Acting very sad
- Eating too small or too much
- A feeling of guilt or worthlessness
- Thinking of death at all times and exhibit suicidal behavior
- Frequently complaining about not feeling well, including frequent stomach ache or headache
Bipolar Disorder In Teens
Nowadays, the angst-filled behavior of a new age teen is no rare for the parents. This behavior is due to the hormonal changes they experience and the life they lead after puberty. These things can easily make a teen overly excited or de[pressed from time to time. However, some teens may experience such things due to a condition called bipolar disorder.
- Being extremely happy
- Acting or behaving inappropriately
- Getting involved in risky behaviors
- Thinking about sex more than usual
- Use of abusive substances
- Being overly sexually active
- Having a very short temper
- Having difficulty focusing or can get distracted easily
- Faces sleeping issues, but shows no sign of being tired or fatigued
- Eating too much or too little
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Thinking about suicide and death most of the time
- Being less involved in social activities
- Feeling very sad or low
- Is less excited for anything
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
If you have got a sibling or a parent with bipolar disorder, the chances are high that you can have it too. But, it’s equally important to know that many people who have someone in their family with the condition, never get it.
It’s not like only the genes present in your body can trigger bipolar disorder; sometimes, certain environmental factors can contribute too. Such factors include:
- Physical illness
- Unbearable stress
- Traumatic experiences
The factors listed above can be the reason for your condition of bipolar disorder. In some cases, the combination of the elements can also play a crucial role.
The structure of your brain also influences your risk of developing bipolar disorder. It implies that anomalies and the structure and functioning of the brain can increase your risk.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
No single test can help bipolar disorder diagnosis. The doctor will take two or more of these tests listed below:
- Physical Examination: The doctor will take your complete physical exam. He may also order blood tests or urine tests to rule out other possible causes of your symptoms.
- Mental Health Assessment: The doctor can then refer you to a mental health professional or a psychiatrist. They can help detect and treat a medical issue such as bipolar disorder.
- Mood Chronicle: If the doctor supposes that your mood transformations are due to some mental disorders like bipolar disorder, he can advise you to prepare your mood chronicle. Mention the way you are feeling and for how long. He can also suggest keeping track of your eating as well as sleeping pattern to confirm the diagnosis.
- Diagnostic Standards: The diagnostic standards have all the information and symptoms associated with different mental disorders. The doctor will follow the guidelines to decide if your symptoms indicate a bipolar disorder.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?
The doctor that specializes in treating mental health conditions called a psychiatrist can offer the best treatment for bipolar disorder. In your medical team, you may have a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a social worker.
Bipolar disorder is a lifetime condition, which means if you’ve got the condition, you have to live with it for the rest of your life. Treatment is focussed mainly on managing the symptoms so that your daily activities are not obstructed. Depending upon your requirements, the following treatment can be given:
- Medications: To balance your moods, the doctor may suggest some medications.
- Continued Treatment: You need to take the medications and treatment for your lifetime. You can’t just stop taking them even at the periods when you’re feeling perfectly alright. People who stop this maintenance treatment usually suffer from great complications.
- Day Treatment Programs: The doctor may involve you in someday treatment programs. These programs can provide you with the desired counseling and support while your symptoms are addressed.
- Substance Abuse Treatment: If you’ve some issues with drugs or alcohol, you’ll also require a substance abuse requirement. Otherwise, it can become very challenging to manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
- Hospitalization: The doctor will hospitalize you if your symptoms are getting worse or you’re getting detached from reality.
Living With Bipolar Disorder
Although bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, treatment and self-care techniques can help improve the quality of your life.
Be Active And Eat Well: Eating a balanced diet and being fit can help alleviate the symptoms of bipolar disorder, especially depressive symptoms.
It may provide something you can concentrate on which is essential for several people. Not only this, but it can also help in preventing unnecessary weight gain, which is a side effect of several bipolar medications and other treatments.
Some treatments can also make you susceptible to developing diabetes. If you already have diabetes, it can worsen your symptoms and cause serious complications. Maintain healthy body weight and exercise regularly to lower the risk.
You need to have a checkup at least once a year to ensure early diagnosis of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The test will include checking your body weight, blood pressure, and having a blood test.
Self-management Programs: By taking part in a self-management program, you’ll take an active part in the process of recovery, rather than being controlled by the illness.
If you feel low or depressed, these programs can be very beneficial for you. You can find the purpose of your life and boost yourself towards wellness.
Talk About It: Accept your condition of bipolar disorder and talk about it with some of your friends or family members.
Some people do not want to talk about their ailment, else they prefer doing charities and joining support groups.
Many enterprises run self-help groups, where you can be in contact with other people suffering from the same ailment. Share your thoughts and grab theirs to find a better way to cope with bipolar disorder.
Avoid Drugs And Alcohol: Some people try to ease their distress by using illegal drugs and alcohol. No one is unaware of its harmful physical and social effects, and so do not consider them as a replacement for treatments.
Avoid the use of alcohol and illicit drugs and speed up your recovery from the sessions of manic and depressive symptoms.
Living With Someone Having Bipolar Disorder
It’s a tough time living with someone having bipolar disorder. During their episodes of illness, they can become very violent or abusive. It can be challenging for you to handle the situation, and can also require the involvement of social workers or police. Relationships and family life are more likely to get affected. But, if you’re a close relative of the patient, there are some rights reserved that you can use to secure the person’s interest.
How To Deal With Suicidal Feelings?
While having depressive episodes, it’s common to have suicidal thoughts and behavior. These symptoms need to be addressed appropriately.
Some studies suggest that people with bipolar disorder have 15-20% more risk of suicide as compared to others. Also, the risk of suicide is more in the initial phases of the condition, and so it needs to be detected and treated as early as possible.
Whenever you feel low or depressed, contact your GP (General Practitioner), local mental health crisis team or care coordinator.
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