Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by intense emotional ups and downs. Characteristic features of this disorder include periods of mania (an extremely energetic state), hypomania (a milder mania), and depression (low energy and hopelessness). Bipolar disorder has been associated with a combination of genetic, biological, environmental and neurological factors.
Bipolar disorder usually occurs from adolescence to early adulthood and can persist throughout life. Genetic predisposition may increase the risk in individuals with a family history of bipolar disorder. Imbalances in brain chemistry, hormonal changes and environmental stress factors may also be effective in the emergence of this condition.
WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER?
Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder in which a person experiences mood swings that range from extremes (mania) to crashes (depression) and back to highs, interspersed with periods of normal mood. Bipolar disorder can significantly affect a person’s daily life, relationships, and work life.
There are two main types of bipolar disorder:
Bipolar I disorder: In this type, the person experiences a manic episode that lasts at least a week or requires hospitalization.
Bipolar II disorder: In this type, the person experiences a hypomanic episode that lasts at least a week and a depressive episode that lasts at least two weeks.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER?
Bipolar disorder symptoms vary throughout periods of mania, depression, and hypomania. Symptoms of bipolar disorder may include:
Mania Period Symptoms:
Excessive energy and arousal
Excessive optimism or exaggerated self-confidence
rapid thinking and speech
Little needed sleep
Increased mobility, restlessness
Lack of attention and difficulty focusing
Irresponsible behavior, risky decision making
Depression Period Symptoms:
low energy levels
Loss of interest and pleasure
Changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or hypersomnia)
Appetite changes, weight loss or weight gain
Low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness
feelings of guilt
Thoughts of death or suicide
Hypomanic Period Symptoms:
Mild manic symptoms
Less severe, but consistently high energy levels
Increase in activity level
More talking and rapid flow of thoughts
Less need for sleep before bed
Individuals with bipolar disorder often experience fluctuations between periods of mania, hypomania, and depression. These symptoms may interfere with a person’s daily life, work, school, or relationships. Bipolar disorder is diagnosed after a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional. Treatment usually includes medications (e.g., mood stabilizers) and psychotherapy.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER?
Although the exact causes of bipolar disorder are not fully known, genetics, environmental factors, and changes in brain chemistry are thought to play a role.
Bipolar disorder is considered one of the psychiatric conditions with the strongest hereditary transmission. In first-degree relatives of people with bipolar disorder, the risk of developing this disorder is, on average, 10 times higher than in the general population.
Stressful life events can trigger the emergence of bipolar disorder. For example, the death of a close family member, divorce, job loss, or a traumatic event may initiate or worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Changes in brain chemistry
In bipolar disorder, it is thought that there are changes in the levels of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin in the brain. These neurotransmitters are responsible for functions such as mood, emotion regulation, and motivation.
The exact causes of bipolar disorder are not yet fully understood. However, a combination of these factors is thought to play a role in the development of the disease.
Bipolar disorder can be controlled with the right treatment, allowing the person to live a normal life. However, the disease may relapse and discontinuing treatment may cause symptoms to reoccur.
If you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is important to see a mental health professional. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the negative effects of the disease.
HOW IS BIPOLAR DISORDER TREATMENT?
Treatment for bipolar disorder may include a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Medication is the most effective method to control bipolar disorder symptoms. Medications help reduce symptoms of mania and depression.
Medications used to treat bipolar disorder include:
Mood stabilizers: These medications help control symptoms of mania and depression. Lithium, valproate, and carbamazepine are mood stabilizers commonly used to treat bipolar disorder.
antipsychotics: These medications help control the psychotic symptoms seen during the mania period. Haloperidol, olanzapine and risperidone are antipsychotics used to treat bipolar disorder.
antidepressants: These medications help control the symptoms seen during depression. However, using antidepressants alone in bipolar disorder is not recommended as they may cause a mania episode.
Psychotherapy helps people with bipolar disorder learn to manage their emotions and cope with stress. Psychotherapy, when applied together with medication, helps keep the symptoms of the disease under control.
Types of psychotherapy used to treat bipolar disorder include:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT helps people change their negative thoughts and behaviors.
Family therapy: Family therapy helps families of people with bipolar disorder understand and cope with the symptoms of the illness.
Group therapy: Group therapy helps people with bipolar disorder share their experiences with other patients and get support.
Bipolar disorder treatment is planned according to the individual needs of the person. Treatment is usually a long-term process and requires regular follow-up.
Points to consider in the treatment of bipolar disorder are:
It is important to use medications regularly.
Follow the treatment plan with your doctor and be sure to consult your doctor before making any changes.
Develop healthy coping mechanisms to manage stressful life events.
Build a supportive social network.
Bipolar disorder can be controlled with the right treatment, allowing the person to live a normal life.