What is Bipolar Disorder, and why is it so hard to understand?
It may be difficult for people with bipolar disorder to manage their daily lives because the disorder is a brain disorder that affects a person’s mood and disposition greatly. Many people face difficulties in their daily lives, whether it’s struggling to complete simple tasks at work or maintaining close relationships in their personal lives. Bipolar disorder comes in three flavours, each with a different level of severity and duration. People with bipolar disorder, for example, experience depressive episodes and mood swings on a more frequent basis, lasting anywhere from a few days to several months. To be aware that bipolar episodes might occur during pregnancy or even shift with the seasons can be important
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Manic, hypomanic, and depressive episodes are the hallmarks of bipolar disorder. It’s not a coincidence that both mania and hypomanic episodes have the same set of symptoms. Hypomania, on the other hand, is a less severe form of euphoria and is less likely to lead to psychosis, requiring hospitalisation, than mania, which is more severe.
Symptoms of Manic and Hypomanic Episodes
Three or more of the following symptoms are present in both manic and hypomanic episodes:
- More than usual verbal exchanges
- a flurry of ideas
- Having a lapse in concentration
- Less sleep is something that I’m starting to think about.
- Feeling excessively euphoric, jittery, or energised.
- Activity, vigour, or agitation that is elevated.
- Confidence in one’s own abilities and well-being.
- Increased impulsiveness and inability to make well-considered decisions
Symptoms of a Major Depressive Disorder
Depressive symptoms are the third and final symptom of bipolar disorder. There are five or more of the following symptoms that indicate a major depressive episode:
- a complete lack of interest in or enjoyment from previously enjoyed activities
- Observable loss of weight despite no conscious effort to slim down, as well as weight gain or changes in appetite
- All the time, I’m depressed, hopeless, or in tears. irritability can be a sign of depression in children and adolescents.
- Excessive slumber or the inability to rest, as in the case of insomnia
- Lack of stamina or a constant sense of exhaustion
- Obsessive guilt or feelings of inadequacy
- Having difficulty focusing or making decisions
- Having suicidal thoughts or feeling suicidal
There are distinct differences between having bipolar disorder and being diagnosed with depression. Mania or hypomania, the “up,” and major depressive episodes, the “down,” are the hallmarks of bipolar disorder. Those who suffer from clinical depression, on the other hand, experience a constant state of low energy and low mood.
The Factors That Increase the Risk of Bipolar Disorder
However, there are several factors that play a role in the development of bipolar disorder, such as:
- People who have a first-degree relative with bipolar disorder, like a parent or sibling, are more likely to suffer from the disorder, and researchers are still trying to find the genes that cause it. However, having a family history of bipolar disorder does not guarantee that you will develop the disorder yourself. Most people with a family history of bipolar disorder will never suffer from the condition themselves.
- There are biological differences, including physical changes to the brains of those who suffer from the disorder. Bipolar disorder can be exacerbated by abnormalities in the structure or function of the brain.
- In addition to your own biology and family history, environmental factors can play a role.
- Other— Bipolar disorder can be caused by a variety of factors, including extreme stress, trauma, and physical illness.
Types of Manic-Depression
The National Institute of Mental Health distinguishes between three types of bipolar disorder, each characterised by abrupt and obvious shifts in one’s mood. Bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder are the three types of bipolar disorder (cyclothymia). Moods can range from extreme happiness, or “up,” to irritability and despair, or “down,” in general.
It is important to note that bipolar II is not a “milder” form of bipolar I. Although the manic episodes in bipolar II disorder may be less severe and dangerous, there may be longer episodes of depression that are harmful. Learn more about the different types of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis and Treatment
The mood swings of a person with bipolar disorder can vary widely, making a diagnosis difficult. But the longer it is left untreated, the worse the disorder can become, as episodes may become more frequent or even more severe.
Manic or mixed episodes (both manic and depressive) are required for a diagnosis of bipolar I, as previously stated. One or more depressive episodes and at least one episode of hypomania are the hallmarks of Bipolar II.
Bipolar disorder is a serious condition that should be treated by a trained medical professional as soon as possible. Seeking the assistance of a medical professional ensures that the individual will receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment tailored to their specific needs. People who have bipolar disorder can lead healthy and productive lives with the right treatment.
Bipolar disorder is diagnosed through a variety of tests and examinations, including but not limited to:
- In addition to a physical exam, a doctor may conduct lab tests to determine if there are any other extenuating medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms.
- Psychiatric evaluation: You may be referred to a psychiatrist by a medical professional for an assessment of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. You may also be asked to take a self-assessment to determine if you have bipolar disorder. Family members and close friends may also be asked to provide information about your symptoms if you give their permission.
- You may be asked to keep an emotional diary if your doctor suspects a mental illness like bipolar is to blame for your changes in behaviour. Finding the right treatment may be easier if you keep a daily journal recording your moods, sleep patterns, and other relevant information.
- Indicators of bipolar disorder As part of an evaluation for bipolar disorder, a psychiatrist may compare a patient’s symptoms to those listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-IV-TR (DSM-5). “A group of brain disorders that cause extreme fluctuations in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function” is how the DSM-5 defines bipolar disorder in the literature.
When a child or teenager has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they will often have symptoms that don’t fit into the same diagnostic categories as adults. Other mental health issues, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or other behavioural issues, are frequently found in children with bipolar disorder. Children with bipolar disorder should be seen by a paediatrician who is familiar with the condition.
Bipolar disorder is frequently accompanied by one or more of the other conditions listed below.
Treatment and management of bipolar disorder are made more difficult by the fact that it frequently occurs in conjunction with other disorders. Some of the following conditions may reduce the effectiveness of treatment or worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder..
- In the midst of depressive episodes, people with bipolar disorder may experience symptoms of bipolar depression. Anxiety can manifest as a variety of mood swings, hyperactivity, irritability, and other negative emotions. Speaking slowly, gaining weight, and sleeping more than usual are all symptoms that can occur at any given time.
- Major depression — Despite the fact that bipolar disorder and depressive disorder are distinct disorders, major depression is frequently experienced during bipolar depression.
- Anxiety can coexist with bipolar disorder for a variety of reasons.
- A common complication of bipolar disorder is substance abuse and addiction. As a result, more extreme manic and depressive episodes can occur when using substances.
- Adolescents with ADHD are more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder as well. It’s made more difficult by the fact that there are so many symptoms that are similar between the two conditions. Impulsivity and inattention, for example, are hallmarks of both conditions.
Some of the same conditions
Many people with bipolar disorder have additional conditions that are linked to their condition. When multiple conditions or disorders are present, it can be difficult to diagnose or plan treatment for bipolar disorder because of this.
- A common symptom of bipolar disorder is anxiety disorders. GAD, panic disorder, and social phobias are some of the most common anxiety disorders among people with bipolar disorder.
- In people with bipolar disorder, there is a higher risk of developing the mental illness known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (PTSD). There are some symptoms they have in common that can make diagnosing and treating them difficult, despite the fact that they are two distinct mental health diagnoses.
- One of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia is the occurrence of hallucinations and/or delusions in people with bipolar disorder. However, it is possible to suffer from both conditions at once. Schizoaffective disorder occurs when this happens.
- BPD and bipolar disorder share many symptoms, but the two disorders are very different. One’s thoughts and feelings about themselves and others can be profoundly affected by BPD. Learn more about borderline personality disorder vs. bipolar disorder for a deeper understanding of the two.
The Right Time To Seek Assistance
The fact that bipolar disorder is a long-term mental illness means that medical treatment is inevitable. An appropriate treatment plan will be devised by a healthcare professional after the diagnosis has been made. It is critical that you adhere to the strategy outlined in the manual or given specific instructions.
It’s common for people with bipolar disorder to fail to recognise when an episode has become so disruptive that it’s out of their hands. Reaching out to a doctor should be your first step if your manic or depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder worsen or if treatment no longer works.
Whenever a person expresses suicidal or self-harming thoughts, immediate action should be taken.
Among the many options available in an emergency are:
- As soon as possible, dial 911.
- Calling a suicide prevention hotline
- Consultation with a medical professional or therapist
- Using the emergency phone number 9-1-1
Children and adolescents with bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is most commonly found in older teenagers and adults, but it can also affect children as young as six years old and be diagnosed. Diagnosing paediatric bipolar disorder can be challenging due to the disorder’s complexity.
Manic and depressive episodes have different symptoms in children and teens with bipolar disorder.
Symptoms and signs of a manic episode:
- a feeling of euphoria
- Talking at a rapid pace
- Irritability or a short fuse
- Sleep problems, but no tiredness.
- Unsafe actions
- Having a hard time focusing.
- Having a mind full of ideas
Symptoms and signs of a depressive episode:
- Anger or hostility that is growing in intensity
- Often feeling down for no apparent reason.
- Snoozing too much
- Complaining of discomfort (stomachaches and headaches)
- a sense of hopelessness or insignificance
- It’s difficult to focus.
- Consumption patterns can be altered
- Suicidal or death-related thoughts or feelings
Bipolar disorder cannot be diagnosed with a scan of the brain or a blood test. Bipolar disorder is diagnosed by examining a child’s moods, energy levels, behaviour, and sleep habits by a physician or psychiatric professional.
Options for therapy
Therapy, medication, or a combination of the two may be included in a patient’s treatment plan.
Conditions that frequently occur together
In children and young adults with bipolar disorder, several conditions commonly co-occur.
There is a high prevalence of disorders like ADHD, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Since bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness, the primary goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms as much as possible. Psychologists and possibly a licenced therapist or social worker can assist in making treatment decisions for patients with bipolar disorder. To manage symptoms following a diagnosis, the most common treatments are medications and psychotherapy. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the following are common methods of treatment:
For Bipolar Disorder, Medications
Bipolar disorder can be managed with the help of certain medications. There are many medications that can be used immediately after a person is diagnosed, such as psychopharmaceuticals. Some treatment plans focus on sleep and anxiety, while others aim to alleviate depression. In order to find the right bipolar disorder medication, it may be necessary for a patient to try a number of different ones over an extended period of time. Prior to taking a medication, it’s essential to do the following:
- Learn about the medication’s side effects and benefits.
- Please notify your doctor right away if you experience any side effects.
- Prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements should be disclosed to your doctor before beginning any new treatment regimens.
Types of Medications Commonly Used to Treat Bipolar Disorder
Medications are likely to play a significant role in the treatment of bipolar disorder. There are medications that can help manage bipolar disorder if they are used in conjunction with therapy and other methods. A person’s specific symptoms will dictate the types and dosages of medication for bipolar disorder.
- In the treatment of bipolar disorder during manic or hypomanic episodes, mood stabilisers are commonly prescribed. These are frequently cited as one of the most critical bipolar disorder treatments.
- Atypical antipsychotics — Atypical antipsychotics can be an effective treatment for both long-term and short-term plans in treating both types of episodes (manic and depressive). Delusions, hallucinations, and mania symptoms can also be treated with these medications.
- It is possible to prescribe anticonvulsants on their own or in combination with an antipsychotic or lithium medication. Anticonvulsants are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety.
- It is not uncommon for benzodiazepines (also known as “benzos”) to be used as a secondary treatment for bipolar disorder. When other mood stabilisers begin to take effect, it can be prescribed for short-term use
The medication should not be stopped without first consulting a medical professional if it has been prescribed. Even if you start to feel better, it’s important to continue taking your bipolar disorder medication exactly as your doctor prescribes. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can worsen if a patient discontinues taking a prescribed medication.
An individual’s situation and specific needs will determine whether or not the following treatment options are effective in managing bipolar disorder symptoms:
- There are many day treatment programmes available to help those with mental health issues manage their symptoms.
- A person with bipolar disorder may need to take medication for the rest of his or her life, even if he or she feels better. Taking a break from treatment can lead to a relapse in symptoms, which can cause depression or mania symptoms.
- Psychiatric treatment at a hospital can help stabilise a person’s mood during a manic or major depressive episode if they are behaving dangerously.
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
There is no doubt that psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, can be an effective treatment option for some people. Using a variety of therapeutic techniques, this type of treatment helps a person recognise and change unwanted feelings, thoughts, and behaviours. Those who are dealing with bipolar disorder can benefit from this book’s information, resources, and guidance. There are many different types of therapies that may include talk therapy after a diagnosis has been made, such as:
Rhythm therapy for the individual and the community (IPSRT)
These treatments are based on the premise that maintaining a regular schedule aids in better mood regulation. In order to help a patient get back on track, a therapist will work with them to get their daily routines back on track.
Psychiatric treatment based on cognitive behavioural principles (CBT)
Cognitive behavioural therapy aims to replace unhealthy, negative thoughts and behaviours with healthy, positive ones. It is possible to identify the triggers of bipolar episodes through CBT.
As someone with bipolar disorder and their loved ones learn more about the condition, they will be able to better identify their own issues, devise a strategy to avoid relapses, and stick to their treatment plan.
Therapy that focuses on the whole family
Support from others and open communication within the community can help someone stick with their treatment plan and better manage symptoms of mood swings that may occur.
More research is needed into when and how intensive therapy and treatment for bipolar disorder can have the most positive impact. Whether or not full-fledged episodes can be prevented or limited through early intervention is a major topic of debate in this field.
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can be treated without medication as well. It is likely that a combination of medication (or medications) and psychotherapy will be the most effective method of treatment (also known as talk therapy). Long-term and continuous treatment for people with bipolar disorder is necessary even when they are not going through a manic or depressive episode because it is a lifelong mental health condition.
In addition to medication, treatment for bipolar disorder may include the following:
- Any treatment for bipolar disorder must include talk therapy (or psychotherapy). Find out how to identify and talk about the thoughts and feelings that may be contributing to your bipolar disorder symptoms.
- Electrical stimulation of the brain, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), has been shown to provide significant relief for those with bipolar disorder. For ECT to be effective, patients must undergo a series of sessions spread out over several weeks under the influence of general anaesthesia. Even when talk therapy and medication fail, ECT may be useful in relieving and treating the symptoms of both manic and depressive disorders.
- A less-established treatment option than electroconvulsive therapy is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Magnetic waves can also be used to stimulate the brain. TMS is different from ECT in that it is administered to patients while they are awake, thus avoiding the use of general anaesthesia altogether. For a month, it will be given nearly every day. TMS is effective in treating depression, but research is ongoing into its effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder.
As a result of failing to treat Bipolar Disorder, there are many negative consequences.
When left untreated, bipolar disorder has the potential to become a much more debilitating illness. Suicide is a viable option in cases where symptoms worsen to the point of becoming incapacitating. The severity and frequency of manic and depressive episodes can both increase with inadequate treatment.
Untreated bipolar disorder can also lead to the following side effects:
- issues of the day
- Problems with money or the law
- Physical and emotional signs
- Disrupted personal and business relationships (learn more about bipolar disorder and relationships)
- At work or school, a lack of productivity.
- suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts
Beyond Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can be treated with a variety of methods in addition to medication and therapy.
- Depression can be alleviated and moods stabilised by engaging in regular physical activity. Improved sleep quality is another benefit. For those who suffer from bipolar disorder, any or all of these treatments may be helpful.
- In order to better understand your mood swings and the triggers that set them off, you should keep a daily journal and a life chart.
- Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is a well-known mood stabiliser. Bipolar disorder sufferers may find it helpful in setting up healthy routines and reducing their irritability.
- Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids is always recommended. Trans and saturated fats, both of which have been linked to brain chemical imbalances in bipolar disorder, should also be limited in intake.
- Learn calming techniques like yoga, acupuncture, massage therapy, and mindful meditation to reduce stress and anxiety, both of which can worsen bipolar disorder symptoms. Calming techniques can help manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder, but they cannot cure it. Treatment plans can benefit greatly from their inclusion.
Managing the Effects of Bipolar Illness
Although dealing with bipolar disorder can be difficult, there are ways to deal with it. Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness that necessitates lifelong therapy. In order to deal with it, you must first find a treatment that works and then stick with it.
Bipolar disorder can be managed in other ways as well, for example:
- tolerating oneself
- Attending therapy sessions on time and without fail
- Taking prescribed medication even when not experiencing an episode
- Disclosing one’s symptoms and treatment options to a therapist or doctor
- Refraining from excessive alcohol and drug consumption
- Maintaining a regular schedule of eating, sleeping, and exercising
- Identifying the signs and symptoms of mental illness
- Inquiring for help