Fluctuations in moods like feeling sad, happy or anxious are normal. But it becomes a cause of concern when mood swings happen frequently and intensely. These mood swings define bipolar disorder, and it is essential to identify which ones are natural and which need medical attention. This blog is a comprehensive guide on bipolar disorder, its symptoms, causes and treatment options available.
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental disease characterised by extreme mood swings such as a heightened state of mind alternating with moodiness and depressive episodes. It was earlier called manic depression and bipolar sickness. Although there is no known cure for bipolar disease, numerous efficient and effective treatments exist. One may learn to control mood swings using treatment choices, which will benefit both the symptoms and the quality of life.
What are the different types of bipolar disorders?
There are three primary forms of bipolar disorder. They are bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymia.
People with bipolar I experience at least one manic episode in their lifetime. The manic episode may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or episodes of depression. Hypomania is less severe than manic episodes. Anyone, irrespective of gender, can get affected by this disorder.
Bipolar II patients go through one severe depressive episode that lasts at least two weeks. Additionally, they experience at least one hypomanic episode. Studies suggest that this kind of bipolar disorder may be more prevalent among women.
Cyclothymia patients experience episodes of hypomania and depression. The mania and depression brought on by these episodes are milder and last shorter than those brought on by bipolar I or bipolar II disorder.
What are the diagnostic methods for Bipolar patients?
During the diagnostic process, the healthcare provider may go into greater detail about the symptoms and try to detect which type of bipolar illness the patient is suffering from.
Different mood symptoms that some people experience usually fit into the three types. But for some, it may vary. It can be unspecified bipolar and related disorders .
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
A person who experiences bipolar disorder may feature high levels of energy, impulsivity, and enthusiasm, although hypomania is seen as less severe than mania. Mania symptoms can interfere with daily activities and cause issues at work or home. But this may not happen for patients with hypomania. Mania, hypomania, and depression are the three primary signs and symptoms of bipolar illness. These symptoms can appear in various ways in different bipolar disorder types.
- Bipolar I: In this case, the patient may have experienced a minimum of one manic episode, which may be preceded or followed by severe depression or hypomanic episodes. Mania may occasionally make the patients dissociate from reality, also known as psychosis.
- Bipolar II: Patients with bipolar II disorder may not have experienced multiple manic episodes. Instead, they must have had a minimum of one episode of major depression and one hypomanic episode.
- Cyclothymic disorder: Patients with this type of disorder must have experienced numerous less severe hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive episodes for at least two years.
- Other kinds of disorders: Bipolar illness and other associated disorders can also be brought on by certain drugs, alcohol or by a physical condition such as multiple sclerosis, stroke or Cushing’s disease.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder in kids and teenagers?
It is difficult to spot signs of bipolar disorder in children. It can be challenging to determine whether these mood swings are typical of their growth, the effect of stress or trauma, or an indication of a mental health issue.
Major depressive, manic, or hypomanic episodes may differ in children and teenagers, although the pattern may vary from that in adults with bipolar disorder. And while having an episode, feelings can change quickly. Between episodes, some kids may even have a period without mood problems.
So, identifying severe mood swings that differ from their typical mood swings is one of the ways of identifying bipolar disorder in children and teenagers.
When to visit a doctor?
Despite the extreme mood swings, people with bipolar disorder frequently fail to recognise how much their emotional instability affects both themselves and the lives of those who are close to them. It prevents them from receiving the necessary therapy.
Some people relish the euphoric moods and spurts of increased productivity they experience during these episodes. However, this high will be followed by an emotional fall that can leave them exhausted and in problems with the law, finances, or relationships.
Consult a medical or mental health practitioner if one experiences any signs of mania or depression.
What are the causes of bipolar disorder?
Although the cause of the bipolar disorder is uncertain, several factors may contribute.
- Biological variations. Bipolar disorder patients seem to experience structural abnormalities in their brains. Although the cause of these changes is unclear, several studies are being conducted to find root causes.
- Genetics: People with a close family member with the disorder, such as a sibling or parent, are more likely to experience bipolar disorder. Researchers are looking for genes that may contribute to the development of the disorder.
What are the treatment options for people with bipolar disorder?
Treatment methodologies for each patient vary from others. Healthcare providers may use one of these methods to treat.
- Medications: Mood stabilisers, anti-psychotic drugs, anti-depressants, or anti-anxiety pills may be used to handle fluctuations in the mood.
- Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioural therapy or talk therapy helps to address thoughts and unwanted patterns of behaviour.
- Psychoeducation: This is an opportunity to learn more about the condition to help the family and the patient handle it better.
- Other options: In some cases, electroconvulsive therapy may be given.
What are the risk factors for bipolar disorder?
The risk of developing bipolar disorder and triggers for the first episode include the following:
- Genetic: Having a first-degree relative (parent/sibling) with bipolar disorder.
- Stress: Times of extreme stress, such as the death of the loved one or after a tragic incident in life
- Substance abuse: Overuse of drugs or alcohol may also trigger this disorder.
What are the complications related to bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder, if left untreated, can cause severe issues that may affect all aspects of one’s life, including strained relationships, poor performance at work or school, suicide or attempt to suicide, legal or financial problems, and health problems due to substance abuse.
Are there preventive measures for bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is not entirely preventable. To prevent bipolar illness or other mental health issues from worsening, starting treatment as soon as a mental health disorder manifests is beneficial.
If one has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the following techniques can help keep minor symptoms from developing into major manic or depressive episodes:
- Watch out for warning indications: Managing the early symptoms can prevent worsening episodes. The bipolar episodes may follow a pattern, and one may have discovered their causes. Try staying away from the triggers and invite family members or friends to help keep an eye out for warning signs.
- Abstain from alcohol and narcotics: Using recreational drugs may exacerbate the symptoms and increase the likelihood of reoccurrence.
- Follow the directions on the prescriptions: Don’t give in to the temptation to quit receiving treatment. If one stops taking medicines or reduces the dose on one’s own, the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms may arise. Sometimes the symptoms can get worse or come back.
Individuals with bipolar disorder may show unsafe behaviours such as speeding or playing certain dangerous sports during the manic phase. They should be watched and restrained from danger, mainly when dealing with vehicles. Caffeine-containing foods and beverages, including tea, coffee, and cola, should only be consumed in moderation. Alcohol should never be consumed. A patient who is exhibiting manic symptoms must have an immediate mental evaluation.Patients experiencing frequent manic or hypomanic episode lack awareness of their illness and may reject therapy. In such cases, family members may need to contact the doctor. However, early action, including potential medication modifications, may prevent subsequent issues and the requirement for hospitalisation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is there a particular kind of bipolar disorder that women are more likely to get?
Yes. Women are more likely to get bipolar II than Bipolar I.