What is Bipolar Disorder?
Dramatic changes in mood characterize the mental health disease known as bipolar disorder.
The following are major symptoms:
- Periods of mania, which may be described as a very high mood, and episodes of depression, which can be described as a low mood
Manic depression and bipolar sickness are two of the older names for what we now know as bipolar disorder.
- The diagnosis of bipolar illness is not unheard of. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a reliable source, 2.8 per cent of adults in the United States, which is equivalent to around 5 million individuals, have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Although there is no known cure for bipolar disease, there are a variety of therapies that are known to be successful. You may be able to learn to regulate your mood episodes with the aid of these treatment choices, which may improve not only your symptoms but also the overall quality of your life.
Types of bipolar disorder
There are three primary classifications of bipolar disorder: cyclothymia, bipolar I, and bipolar II.
The manifestation of at least one manic episode is required for a diagnosis of bipolar I. You might have hypomanic episodes, which are less severe than manic episodes, or significant depressive episodes before and after the manic period. Both of these conditions could occur simultaneously. All ages and genders are equally susceptible to having this particular kind of bipolar illness.
People who have bipolar II disorder go through one severe depressive episode in their lifetime that lasts for at least two weeks. In addition to this, they have at least one hypomanic episode that lasts for around four days. This kind of bipolar illness may be more frequent in women, according to a review that was published in 2017 by a Reliable Source.
Cyclothymia is characterized by alternating periods of hypomania and depression in affected individuals. These episodes are characterized by symptoms that are shorter in duration and less severe in nature compared to the manic episodes and depressive episodes that are produced by bipolar I or bipolar II disease, respectively. The majority of persons who have this disorder seldom go for more than one or two months without experiencing any mood symptoms at all.
When discussing your diagnosis, your physician will be able to provide you with further information on the kind of bipolar illness that you have.
Certain individuals go through life experiencing specific mood symptoms that are similar to but do not exactly fit with these three categories. If this describes your situation, you may be given a diagnosis of the following conditions:
- Various defined forms of bipolar illness and diseases connected to it
- Diseases linked to bipolar disorder and others not described
In order to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, an individual must have had at least one episode of either manic or hypomanic behaviour.
Both mania and hypomania contain sensations of excitement, impulsivity, and high energy levels; however, hypomania is regarded as a less severe form of the condition than mania. The symptoms of mania might interfere with your day-to-day life, which can cause issues at your place of employment or at home. In most cases, the symptoms of hypomania do not.
Major depressive episodes, commonly known as “down moods,” are experienced by certain persons who have the mental illness known as bipolar disorder.
The primary characteristics of bipolar disorder are mania, hypomania, and depression. Mania, hypomania, and depression are the three major symptoms. These symptoms may manifest in various ways depending on the subtype of bipolar illness that a person has.
Bipolar I Symptoms
A diagnosis of bipolar I disorder requires the following:
- at least one episode of manic depressive disorder that lasts for at least one week
- symptoms that interfere with normal everyday activities
- symptoms that cannot be attributed to another medical ailment, mental health issue, or the usage of a drug.
There is also a possibility that you may suffer signs of psychosis, as well as mania and depression simultaneously (known as mixed features). Your life may be significantly impacted as a result of these symptoms. If you do have them, it is in your best interest to seek out expert assistance as soon as you possibly can (more on this later).
Although having periods of hypomania or depression is not a requirement for receiving a diagnosis of bipolar I, many persons who have this form of the disorder do report having symptoms that fall into these categories.
Bipolar II symptoms
A diagnosis of bipolar II requires:
At least one episode of hypomania, defined as hypomanic if it lasts for four days or more and includes three or more hypomanic symptoms
Alterations in mood and normal function that are associated with hypomania and may be seen by others, even if they may not directly impact your day-to-day existence.
At least one episode of major depression that lasts for two weeks or longer; at least one episode of major depression involving five or more key depression symptoms that have a significant impact on your day-to-day life; symptoms that are unrelated to another medical or mental health condition or substance use; symptoms that have a significant impact on your ability to function normally in your daily life.
Bipolar II may also contain signs of psychosis. However, these symptoms will only manifest themselves during a depressive episode. The other possibility is that you may have mixed mood episodes, which means that you will exhibit signs of both hypomania and sadness simultaneously.
Mania, on the other hand, is not something that is associated with bipolar II. A diagnosis of bipolar I will be given to you if you experience mania at any point in your life.
Cyclothymia must be present for a doctor to make the diagnosis.
- alternating bouts of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms, occurring intermittently over a period of at least two years (1 year for children and adolescents)
- symptoms that never fully meet the requirements for an episode of hypomania or depression, signs that are present for at least half of the two years and never missing for more than two months at a time symptoms that never fully meet the criteria for an episode of mania or depression
- symptoms that are not related to another medical or mental health condition or to drug use symptoms that cause considerable distress and disrupt
- everyday life symptoms that are not related to another medical or mental health condition or to substance use
- A fluctuating pattern of mood symptoms characterizes Cyclothymia. These symptoms may not be as severe as those of manic or hypomanic bipolar disorder. Nevertheless, they have the propensity to continue for a longer period of time, which means there will likely be less time during which you are symptom-free.
It’s possible that hypomania won’t have much of an effect on your day-to-day activities. On the other hand, depression often causes more severe suffering. It interferes with day-to-day function, even if the individual’s symptoms do not meet the criteria for a major depressive episode.
If you ever do experience enough symptoms to meet the criteria for a hypomanic or depressive episode, your diagnosis will most likely change to another type of bipolar disorder or major depression, depending on your symptoms. If you have never experienced enough symptoms to meet the criteria for a hypomanic or depressive episode, you are unlikely ever to do so.
Mania and hypomania
An elevated mood state often accompanies a bout of manic behaviour. You might experience feelings of euphoria, impulsiveness, excitement, and full-bodied energy. You can also find that your thoughts appear to be racing or that you have a jumpy feeling in your body. Hallucinations and other symptoms of psychosis are also experienced by some persons who have this condition.
During a manic episode, you may engage in conduct that is more impulsive than normal. This is often caused by the feeling that you are either invincible or untouchable. Examples of this kind of conduct that are often highlighted include the following:
- Using alcohol and drugs, or using them to a greater extent than normal going on spending sprees engaging in sexual activity without using a barrier technique
- However, impulsivity and a willingness to take risks may manifest themselves in various contexts as well.
- Maybe you, Leave your job abruptly
Drive considerably faster than usual, much beyond the speed limit; go on a road trip by yourself without informing anybody else about it; make a significant investment on a whim; drive much faster than usual.
- Try out some extreme activities that you probably wouldn’t think of doing otherwise.
- Hypomania, which is often linked with bipolar II illness, is characterized by many of the same symptoms as manic episodes, although with a less intensity. In contrast to manic episodes, hypomanic episodes often do not cause problems at work or school or in personal relationships.
- Psychotic symptoms do not accompany hypomanic episodes. Manic episodes do not often persist as long as hypomanic episodes and do not necessitate hospitalization.
If you have hypomania, you may not notice any additional changes in your mood despite the fact that you could feel highly active and enthusiastic. People who don’t know you very well aren’t likely to know you very well, either. Those that are closest to you, on the other hand, are frequently the first to notice when your mood or energy level changes.
Major depressive episodes
A shift in mood that is described as “down” might cause you to feel listless, uninspired, and depressed.
At least five of the following symptoms will be present during severe depressive episodes that are caused by bipolar disorder:
- a state of persistent melancholy, characterized by intense melancholy, a loss of hope, or feelings of emptiness
expenditure of energy
- an impression of moving at a pace that is slower than normal or a continuous unease
- a loss of interest in things that you used to take pleasure in; periods of either little or excessive sleep; feelings of shame or worthlessness
- issues with concentration, attention, and decision-making thoughts of death, dying, or self-harm changes in appetite or weight
- Major depressive episodes are experienced by many persons who have bipolar disorder, while the condition does not affect everyone who has it. It is possible that you may just have a few signs of depression rather than the whole five that are required for a significant episode, depending on the kind of bipolar illness that you have.
It is also important to note that the euphoria associated with manic episodes might seem nice at times, but this is not always the case. After you have received treatment for your manic episode, the symptom-free mood that you experience may seem more like a “down” shift, or a time of sadness, than a mood state that is more common for you.
Even while both bipolar illness and depression may cause a person to feel sad, there is a significant distinction between the two. It is possible to have “up” and “down” mood states when you have bipolar illness. However, if you suffer from depression, your disposition and feelings may not improve until you get therapy for the condition.
A diagnosis of bipolar illness is made in nearly the same amount of men and women each year. However, the primary symptoms of the condition might shift significantly based not just on your gender but also on the genitalia you were given at birth.
Later in life, often in their 20s or 30s, females who have the bipolar illness are diagnosed with the condition on average. Sometimes, the person may not notice any signs until they are pregnant or after giving birth. They also have an increased risk of receiving a diagnosis of bipolar II instead of bipolar I.
Additionally, women with bipolar disorder tend to experience:
- Less severe manifestations of manic illness
- Fast cycling, which is defined as having at least four bouts of both mania and depression in a single year or more sad episodes than manic episodes
- More co-occurring conditions
Women who suffer from bipolar illness are at an increased risk of experiencing relapses, which may be caused, in part, by the hormonal shifts that are associated with menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. A relapse is when someone with bipolar illness has a mood episode after going through a period of time without experiencing one.
On the other side, some characteristics of men who suffer from bipolar illness include:
- Acquire a diagnosis early in life
- Have less frequent but more intense episodes, particularly manic episodes
- Have a higher risk of additionally suffering from a drug use problem
- During manic periods, you should behave more aggressively.
The diagnosis of bipolar disease in children is highly contentious. This is mostly due to the fact that children do not usually demonstrate the same signs of bipolar disorder as adults. There is a possibility that their emotions and actions may not match the criteria that physicians use to diagnose the disease in adults.
Many of the symptoms of bipolar disorder that manifest in children are also shared by other illnesses that are prevalent in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
However, over the course of the last several decades, medical experts and those working in mental health have become more aware of the problem among youngsters. Children who have a diagnosis are more likely to get therapy, although obtaining a diagnosis may take a number of weeks or even months. It is in your best interest to seek the assistance of a trained expert specialising in treating children suffering from mental health disorders.
Children and adolescents who suffer from bipolar illness, similar to adults, go through extremes of mood. They might give the impression of being extremely cheerful and exhibit behaviours that indicate they are excited, or they can seem to be very emotional, depressed, and irritated.
Mood swings are a normal part of childhood for many children, but more pronounced and obvious mood symptoms characterize the bipolar illness. Alterations in temperament are often more severe than the normal swings in temperament that children experience.
Manic symptoms in children
- Behaving very childishly and experiencing an excessive amount of joy
- Changing the topic often while speaking quickly.
- Unable to focus or concentrate despite best efforts
- To undertake dangerous activities or attempt dangerous activities for the first time
- Possessing a very short fuse that may easily be triggered into angry outbursts.
- Having difficulties sleeping and not feeling fatigued after sleep loss
Depressive symptoms in children
In children who have bipolar disorder, symptoms of depressive episodes might include things like the following:
- Wallowing in misery, putting on a gloomy show, shedding tears on a regular basis sleeping too much or too little
- Having little or no energy for regular tasks or displaying no interest in anything are both symptoms of this condition.
- Complaints about not feeling well, such as experiencing headaches or stomachaches on a regular basis
- Negative emotions such as shame or worthlessness
- Consuming either too little or too much food.
- Feelings of hopelessness or suicidal ideation
Other possible diagnoses
There is a possibility that your kid may be suffering from another mental health disorder, such as ADHD or depression, if you have seen certain behavioural problems in your child. Additionally, it is conceivable for children to have both bipolar illness and another ailment simultaneously.
Your child’s primary care physician is in the best position to provide further direction and assistance in documenting and monitoring your child’s actions, which may assist in arriving at the correct diagnosis.
Finding the most appropriate therapy for your kid might be greatly aided by obtaining an accurate diagnosis of the condition. Treatment, of course, has the potential to have a significant impact on the symptoms that your kid is experiencing, not to mention the overall quality of their life.
Symptoms in teens
The combination of fluctuating hormone levels and the life upheavals that inevitably accompany puberty might give the impression that adolescents are too sensitive at times.
However, mood swings that are extreme or occur often may indicate a more severe problem, such as bipolar disorder, rather than the normal progression of adolescent development.
When a person is in their late teens or early 20s, they are most likely to get a diagnosis of bipolar illness.
Among adolescents, common manifestations of manic behaviour include the following:
- Being incredibly happy
- “acting out” or behaving inappropriately
- engaging in potentially harmful actions such as using substances
- Having more thoughts than normal concerning sexual matters
- increasing one’s sexuality or sexual activity to an unhealthy level
- having difficulties sleeping, yet not showing any indications of being weary or exhausted; having an extremely short temper
- having problems maintaining concentration or being quickly sidetracked by other things
The following are examples of symptoms that are common during a depressed episode:
- sleeping for too long or too short of a duration
- eating an excessive amount or not enough
- experiencing a great deal of melancholy and exhibiting very little excitement
- separating themselves from both hobbies and friends
- contemplating or having a conversation about suicide and death
It is important to keep in mind that many of these indications, such as engaging in risky activity with drugs and having thoughts about having sexual relationships, are typical of adolescents. However, if these symptoms appear to be part of a wider pattern of fluctuating emotions or if they start to disrupt the person’s day-to-day life, then it is possible that the person is suffering from bipolar disorder or another ailment.
Bipolar disorder treatment
The symptoms of bipolar illness may be managed with the aid of many different therapies. Medication, psychotherapy, and adjustments to one’s way of life are all part of this treatment. There are also potential advantages to using some natural therapies.
Among the recommended drugs are possible:
- Medications that may regulate mood, such as lithium (Lithobid)
- Antipsychotic medications, such as olanzapine, among others (Zyprexa)
- Antidepressants and antipsychotics, such as fluoxetine and olanzapine, are examples (Symbyax)
- Benzodiazepines are a class of anti-anxiety medications that are often prescribed for temporary usage.
Recommended therapy approaches may include:
Cognitive behavioural therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy, often known as CBT, is a kind of talk therapy that may assist you in recognizing problematic thinking patterns, addressing those thought patterns, and altering those behaviour patterns.
Talk therapy provides a secure environment in which to explore different approaches to symptom management. Your therapist may also be able to provide assistance with the following:
- Gaining knowledge of cognitive processes
- Recasting difficult feelings as more manageable ones
- Acquiring and putting into practice other beneficial coping techniques
The goal of the therapeutic method known as psychoeducation is to educate patients about their conditions and the available treatment options. Having this information may go a long way toward assisting you and the people who are supportive in your life in recognizing early mood signs and more successfully managing them.
Counselling that focuses on interpersonal and social rhythms
The goal of interpersonal and social rhythm treatment is to establish and maintain healthy daily routines, including appropriate sleeping, eating, and exercise patterns. Keeping these aspects of daily life under check may result in fewer instances of mood instability and milder symptoms.
Natural remedies for bipolar disorder
There is some evidence that natural treatments for bipolar illness may be helpful.
Before attempting any of these treatments, however, you should always see your primary care physician or a mental health professional. They may not always interact well with the medicines you’re already taking, but sometimes they do.
Whether paired with medicine and treatment, the following herbs and supplements may, when taken by themselves or together, help stabilize your mood and minimize the symptoms of bipolar disorder:
- Omega-3. Some research from 2016 According to a Reliable Source, taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of bipolar I. According to the findings of research conducted in 2012 by Trusted Source, this was very effective with the symptoms of depression.
- Rhodiola Rosea. A 2013 review It has been suggested by a Reliable Source that this plant may aid with mild depression; hence, it may assist in the treatment of depression linked with bipolar disorder.
- S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) (SAMe). A supplement composed of the amino acid SAMe has been shown to reduce the severity of symptoms associated with severe depression and other mood disorders.
Experts have not been able to identify why certain individuals are predisposed to developing a bipolar illness, despite the fact that it is a rather prevalent mental health problem.
The following are some of the possible causes of bipolar disorder:
If one of your parents or one of your siblings has bipolar disorder, your risk of developing the disease is increased.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the vast majority of individuals who have a history of bipolar illness in their family also do not get the disease themselves.
It’s possible that the way your brain is structured might influence your likelihood of having bipolar illness. There is a possibility that abnormalities increase this risk in the chemistry of the brain, as well as by changes in the structure or functions of the brain.
Your risk of having bipolar illness may be affected by factors more than only the substances that are present in your body. There is also the potential for influence from external causes. These could include the following:
- tremendous stress
- horrific experiences
- a sickness of the body
Is there a genetic component to bipolar disorder?
According to a Reliable Source, heredity may play a significant effect in the development of bipolar illness, especially in the case of individuals who are direct relatives. According to the findings of little research that was conducted in 2016, the probability of having the illness is around ten times greater if you have a parent or sibling who also has it. Trusted Source.
Having a history of bipolar illness in your family does not guarantee that you will go on to acquire the condition yourself, and it is possible to have bipolar disorder even in the absence of a family history of the condition.
Find out more information regarding the genetic component of bipolar illness.
Is there any way to stop it?
When you first become aware that you are having mood episodes, you have the ability to take measures that will lessen the impact of those episodes and decrease the likelihood that you will have more mood episodes in the future. However, it is not always possible to stop mood episodes from occurring totally or to stop the illness from manifesting itself in the first place.
It is possible that further study may shed light on the particular factors that contribute to the development of bipolar illness and provide researchers with a deeper understanding of the potential preventative measures that can be taken.
Some individuals who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder also suffer from other mental illnesses.
The following are some examples of other conditions that may coexist with bipolar disorder:
- substance use problems
- eating disorders
- Phobias de type spécifique
Depending on your current mental state, the manifestation of the symptoms of these disorders may be more severe. Anxiety, for instance, seems to occur more often in people who have depression, but drug abuse may be more prevalent in those who have manic-depressive illness.
If you suffer from bipolar illness, you may also have a greater risk of getting a number of other medical issues, including the following:
- coronary artery disease
- thyroid disorders
Living with bipolar disorder
Treatment may assist you in managing bouts of mood and in coping with the symptoms that these episodes bring.
Putting together a care team might assist you in making the most of the therapy that you are receiving. Your group may consist of people like:
- Your main doctor
- A mental health professional who oversees the management of your medicines
- One who practices talk therapy, whether as a therapist or counsellor
- Other medical experts or specialists, such as an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, or a specialist in sleep disorders
- A support group for bipolar illness is often known as a community of individuals who are also coping with bipolar disorder.
It’s possible that you won’t see any progress until you try a few different therapies and discovering one that works. Certain drugs are effective for certain patients but not for others. In a similar line, some individuals find cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to be quite useful, while other people may notice very little progress from using it.
Always do your best to maintain open communication with the members of your care team on what works and what does not work for you. Do not be afraid to speak out and let them know if something is not helpful or if it causes you to feel even worse than before. Your mental health is important, and the care team you have should constantly encourage you to identify the strategy that will be most useful to you.
A little compassion extended toward oneself may also go a very long way. It is important to remember that bipolar illness, like any other mental health condition, is not the result of a conscious decision. It has nothing to do with anything you did or did not do on your end.
When therapy does not seem to be effective, it is OK (and indeed rather typical) to feel disappointed. While you are experimenting with different methods, make an effort to practice patience and be gentle with yourself.
Bipolar disorder and relationships
Any of your relationships might be impacted if you have bipolar illness. However, these impacts may become most apparent in the relationships you hold most dear, such as those you have with members of your family and those you have with romantic partners.
Honesty is always helpful when it comes to maintaining a relationship while living with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder. If you are upfront with your spouse about your disease, they will be better able to comprehend your symptoms and the ways in which they may give assistance.
You might consider starting with a few basic details, including:
- How long have you been suffering from the condition?
- How your typical depressive bouts will typically affect you
- How your typical manic episodes will typically affect you
- Your overall treatment strategy, which may include psychotherapy, medication, and coping techniques
- Whatever it is that they can do to assist
Although the bipolar illness is a disease that lasts a lifetime, it does not necessarily have to have a significant negative impact on a person’s life. Maintaining adherence to a treatment plan, engaging in self-care on a consistent basis, and drawing on your network of support may help improve your overall well-being and reduce the severity of symptoms associated with living with bipolar illness.