Bipolar Disorder

Formerly called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year or as often as several times a week.
TYPES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
1) Bipolar I Disorder
Defined by manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks.
2) Bipolar II Disorder
Defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but no full-blown manic or mixed episodes.
3) Bipolar Disorder
Not Otherwise Specified (BP-NOS) Diagnosed when symptoms of the illness exist but do not meet diagnostic criteria for either bipolar I or II. However, the symptoms are clearly out of the person’s normal range of behavior.
4) Cyclothymic Disorder, or Cyclothymia
A mild form of bipolar disorder. People with cyclothymia have episodes of hypomania as well as mild depression for at least 2 years. However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for any other type of bipolar disorder.
CAUSES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several factors may be involved, such as:
1) Biological differences.
People with bipolar disorder appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
2) Neurotransmitters.
An imbalance in naturally occurring brain chemicals called neurotransmitters seems to play a significant role in bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.
3) Inherited traits.
Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a first-degree relative, such as a sibling or parent, with the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing bipolar disorder.
YOU HAVE A HIGH RISK OF SUFFERING FROM BIPOLAR DISORDER IF;
  • Having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with bipolar disorder
  • Periods of high stress
  • Drug or alcohol abuse
  • Major life changes, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic experiences

 

NOTE
If you have bipolar disorder, you may also have another health condition that’s diagnosed before or after your diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Such conditions need to be diagnosed and treated because they may worsen existing bipolar disorder or make treatment less successful. They include:
1) Anxiety disorders.
Examples include social anxiety disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.
2) Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Some people with PTSD, a trauma- and stress-related disorder, also have bipolar disorder.
3) Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD). ADHD has symptoms that overlap with bipolar disorder. For this reason, bipolar disorder can be difficult to differentiate from ADHD. Sometimes one is mistaken for the other. In some cases, a person may be diagnosed with both conditions.
4) Addiction or substance abuse.
Many people with bipolar disorder also have alcohol, tobacco or drug problems. Drugs or alcohol may seem to ease symptoms, but they can actually trigger, prolong or worsen depression or mania.
5) Physical health problems.
People diagnosed with bipolar disorder are more likely to have certain other health problems, such as heart disease, thyroid problems or obesity.
SYMPTOMS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme mood swings. These can range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). Episodes of mania and depression can often last for several weeks or months.
Depression
During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:
  • feeling sad and hopeless
  • lacking energy
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering things
  • loss of interest in everyday activities
  • feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
  • feelings of guilt and despair
  • feeling pessimistic about everything
  • self-doubt
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • lack of appetite
  • difficulty sleeping
  • waking up early
  • suicidal thoughts
Mania
The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:
  • feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
  • talking very quickly
  • feeling full of energy
  • feeling self-important
  • feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
  • being easily distracted
  • being easily irritated or agitated
  • being delusional, having hallucinations and disturbed or illogical thinking
  • not feeling like sleeping
  • not eating
  • doing things that often have disastrous consequences, such as spending large sums of money on expensive and sometimes unaffordable items
  • making decisions or saying things that are out of character and that others see as being risky or harmful

 

TREATMENT
1) Medication or Hospitalization
2) Psychotherapy
This may include:
I. Cognitive behavioral therapy.
The focus of cognitive behavioral therapy is identifying unhealthy, negative beliefs and behaviors and replacing them with healthy, positive ones. It can help identify what triggers your bipolar episodes. You also learn effective strategies to manage stress and to cope with upsetting situations.
II. Psycho-education.
Counseling to help you learn about bipolar disorder (psycho-education) can help you and your loved ones understand bipolar disorder. Knowing what’s going on can help you get the best support and treatment, and help you and your loved ones recognize warning signs of mood swings.
III. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT).
IPSRT focuses on the stabilization of daily rhythms, such as sleep, wake and mealtimes. A consistent routine allows for better mood management. People with bipolar disorder may benefit from establishing a daily routine for sleep, diet and exercise.
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