Category Archives: Mental Health Awareness

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.
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.
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.
  • 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


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.
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.
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
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


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.


Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It can also be called major depression, major depressive disorder or clinical depression
It affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and depression may make you feel as if life isn’t worth living.
More than just a bout of the blues, depression isn’t a weakness, nor is it something that you can simply “snap out” of. Depression may require long-term treatment
Depression affects each person in different ways, so symptoms caused by depression vary from person to person. To clarify the type of depression you have, your doctor may add information to your depression diagnosis called a specifier. Specifiers include having depression with specific features, such as:
1) Anxious distress
Unusual restlessness or worry about possible events or loss of control
2) Mixed features
Simultaneous depression and mania, which includes elevated self-esteem, talking too much, and racing thoughts and ideas
3) Melancholic features
Severe depression with a profound lack of response to something that used to bring pleasure, associated with early morning awakening, worsened mood in the morning, significant changes in appetite, and feelings of guilt, agitation or sluggishness
4) Atypical features
Ability to be cheered by happy events, increased appetite, little need for sleep, sensitivity to rejection, and a heavy feeling in arms or legs
5) Psychotic features
Depression accompanied by delusions or hallucinations, which may involve themes of personal inadequacy or negative themes
6) Catatonia
Includes motor activity that involves either uncontrollable and purposeless movement or fixed and inflexible posture
7) Peripartum onset
Occurs during pregnancy or in the weeks or months after delivery (postpartum)
8) Seasonal pattern
Related to changes in seasons and diminished exposure to sunlight
  • Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in normal activities, such as sex
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Tiredness and lack of energy, so that even small tasks take extra effort
  • Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people
  • Anxiety, agitation or restlessness — for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wringing or an inability to sit still
  • Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that are not your responsibility
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things
  • Frequent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
  • For some people, depression symptoms are so severe that it’s obvious something isn’t right. Other people feel generally miserable or unhappy without really knowing why.
  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness or unhappiness


  • You have history of anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Abuse of alcohol or illegal drugs
  • Certain personality traits, such as having low self-esteem and being overly dependent, self-critical or pessimistic
  • Serious or chronic illness, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease
  • Certain medications, such as some high blood pressure medications or sleeping pills (talk to your doctor before stopping any medication)
  • Traumatic or stressful events, such as physical or sexual abuse, the loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship or financial problems
  • Blood relatives with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, alcoholism or suicide


  • Excess weight or obesity, which can lead to heart disease and diabetes
  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Anxiety, panic disorder or social phobia
  • Family conflicts, relationship difficulties, and work or school problems
  • Social isolation
  • Suicidal feelings, suicide attempts or suicide
  • Self-mutilation, such as cutting
  • Premature death from other medical conditions


1) Psychotherapy
Talking about your condition and other related issues with your mental health provider. These therapies can help you;
  • Identify negative beliefs and behaviors and replace them with healthy, positive ones
  • Explore relationships and experiences, and develop positive interactions with others
  • Find better ways to cope and solve problems
  • Identify issues that contribute to your depression and change behaviors that make it worse
  • Regain a sense of satisfaction and control in your life and help ease depression symptoms, such as hopelessness and anger
  • Learn to set realistic goals for your life
  • Develop the ability to tolerate and accept distress using healthier behaviors
2) Medication
Your doctor will prescribe suitable medication
3) Hospitalization and residential treatment program
In some people, depression is so severe that a hospital stay is needed. Inpatient hospitalization may be necessary if you can’t care for yourself properly or when you’re in immediate danger of harming yourself or someone else. Psychiatric treatment at a hospital can help keep you calm and safe until your mood improves.


There is no immunity; mental illness can come out of nowhere and affect anyone at any time.

These are some of the extracts of  what the former NHS director of Mental Health recently shared about her battle with depression that left her suicidal within 10 days and admitted in an inpatient ward for 12 weeks. You may think that with her background in the field, she would would never have had to walk this journey, yet there she was in hospital relying on the support of her former subordinates.

“I’m sharing this awful picture and my story to help increase understanding of the impact of mental illness and to celebrate my recovery,” she said.

I lost my mind, lost my self esteem, lost my pride, lost my sense of who I am, lost my confidence, lost my job and my income, lost my driving license and my independence.

‘So so so far from who I normally am; a confident, competent, extrovert, professional, independent woman. This is what mental illness has the power to do.

Please don’t pity me for having a mental illness. Instead, wish me well for my discharge and full recovery,’ she added.

‘But I am slowly picking up the pieces… like a smashed vase, glueing itself together in to a beautiful mosaic. I will be strong again. I will be OK.’

I never knew the extremes depression or any other form of mental illness can push you until someone so close to me was diagnosed with the same. And because their struggle and pain isn’t visible, we are quick to think that they are not trying hard to get better or that they exaggerating their situation or even just seeking attention!! In my case, i was in total denial, i could not come to terms with the fact that the person i was looking at had become the exact opposite of the sweet, happy individual i knew who was so full of life.

It took lots of reading for me to try to understand the struggle and in that spirit for the next 7 – 10 days, i will be sharing some information about mental health; the causes, signs & symptoms, complications and treatment. Hopefully someone else will benefit from it.

Together we can promote Mental Health awareness and fight the Stigma attached to it.