What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and impairs the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. This is a mood disorder where affected persons are prone to periods of mood disturbances i.e. Hypomania, Mania, Mixed episode, or Depression.
The person may be absolutely symptom free between the episodes, and effective treatment can keep the person symptom free for relatively longer periods.
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
People with bipolar disorder experience periods of unusually intense emotion, changes in sleep patterns and activity levels, and unusual behaviors. These distinct periods are called “mood episodes.” Mood episodes are drastically different from the moods and behaviors that are typical for the person. Extreme changes in energy, activity, and sleep go along with mood episodes.
|People having a manic episode may:|
People having a depressive episode may:
|Feel very “up,” “high,” or elatedHave a lot of energyHave increased activity levelsFeel “jumpy” or “wired”Have trouble sleepingBecome more active than usualTalk really fast about a lot of different thingsBe agitated, irritable, or “touchy”Feel like their thoughts are going very fastThink they can do a lot of things at onceDo risky things, like spend a lot of money or have reckless sex||Feel very sad, down, empty, or hopelessHave very little energyHave decreased activity levelsHave trouble sleeping, they may sleep too little or too muchFeel like they can’t enjoy anythingFeel worried and emptyHave trouble concentratingForget things a lotEat too much or too littleFeel tired or “slowed down”Think about death or suicide|
Sometimes a mood episode includes symptoms of both manic and depressive symptoms. This is called an episode with mixed features. People experiencing an episode with mixed features may feel very sad, empty, or hopeless, while at the same time feeling extremely energized.
Bipolar disorder can be present even when mood swings are less extreme. For example, hypomania, a less severe form of mania.
During a hypomanic episode, an individual may feel very good, be highly productive, and function well. The person may not feel that anything is wrong, but family and friends may recognize the mood swings and/or changes in activity levels as possible bipolar disorder. Without proper treatment, people with hypomania may develop severe mania or depression.
Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
Proper diagnosis and treatment helps people with bipolar disorder lead healthy and productive lives. Talking with a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional is the first step for anyone who thinks he or she may have bipolar disorder.
People with bipolar disorder are more likely to seek help when they are depressed than when experiencing mania or hypomania. Therefore, a careful medical history is needed to ensure that bipolar disorder is not mistakenly diagnosed as major depression.
A careful longitudinal history, physical examination and structured psychological tests/ questionnaires are needed to formulate a diagnosis.
Scientists are studying the possible causes of bipolar disorder. Most agree that there is no single cause. Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the illness or increase risk.
- Brain Structure and Functioning: Some studies show how the brains of people with bipolar disorder may differ from the brains of healthy people or people with other mental disorders. Learning more about these differences, along with new information from genetic studies, helps scientists better understand bipolar disorder and predict which types of treatment will work most effectively.
- Genetics: Some research suggests that people with certain genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others. But genes are not the only risk factor for bipolar disorder. Studies of identical twins have shown that even if one twin develops bipolar disorder, the other twin does not always develop the disorder, despite the fact that identical twins share all of the same genes.
- Family History: Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are much more likely to develop the illness, compared with children who do not have a family history of the disorder. However, it is important to note that most people with a family history of bipolar disorder will not develop the illness.
- Substance abuse: Some evidence points that Bipolar disorder may be linked to and accentuated by substance abuse especially cannabis (Weed), Alcohol, and others. Hence treatment of substance abuse in persons with Bipolar Disorder may be of utmost importance.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Treatment helps many people—even those with the most severe forms of bipolar disorder—gain better control of their mood swings and other bipolar symptoms. An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”). Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. Episodes of mania and depression typically come back over time. Between episodes, many people with bipolar disorder are free of mood changes, but some people may have lingering symptoms. Long-term, continuous treatment helps to control these symptoms.
MEDICATIONS FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER
Different types of medications can help control symptoms of bipolar disorder. An individual may need to try several different medications before finding ones that work best.
Medications generally used to treat bipolar disorder include:
- Mood stabilizers
- Atypical antipsychotics
Anyone taking a medication should:
- Talk with a doctor to understand the risks and benefits of the medication
- Report any concerns about side effects to a doctor right away. The doctor may need to change the dose or try a different medication.
- Avoid stopping a medication without talking to a doctor first. Suddenly stopping a medication may lead to “rebound” or worsening of bipolar disorder symptoms. Other uncomfortable or potentially dangerous withdrawal effects are also possible.
THERAPY/ COUNSELING FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER
When done in combination with medication, psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”) can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. It can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Some psychotherapy treatments used to treat bipolar disorder include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Family-focused therapy
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
OTHER TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR BIPOLAR DISORDER
Options like rTMS, Modified Electrocolvulsive therapy, Vagal Nerve stimulation, etc are reserved for difficult to treat cases.
Self help tips for bipolar disorder:
Keeping a Life Chart: Even with proper treatment, mood changes can occur. Treatment is more effective when a client and doctor work closely together and talk openly about concerns and choices. Keeping a life chart that records daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events can help clients and doctors track and treat bipolar disorder most effectively.
Maintaining Body Rhythms: Maintaining Well Balanced Sleeping And Dietary Habits.
Avoiding drugs: helps prevent triggers .
Seeking good social support.
Bipolar disorder is an effectively treatable illness and treatment can help you lead a life free of these episodes and symptoms. Hence delay in treatment can increase the impact on lives of individuals as well as families.
Self help tips for Bipolar Disorder:
- Here are other tips that may help you or a loved one during treatment for Bipolar Disorder
- For anyone around you with any of such symptoms suggestive of Bipolar Disorder encourage to seek Psychiatric help with a Psychiatrist, self diagnosis can do more harm than good
- If you are prescribed a medicine, please be regular with the same. Leaving medication in middle of the treatment duration may make the illness more difficult to treat
- Be supportive of treatment and discuss any apprehension with your Psychiatrist
- Discuss any side effect with your Doctor, and seek information for any probable side effect
- Set mutual goals of treatment with your Doctor/ Therapist
- Try to be active and exercise regularly
- Maintain adequate sleep and bodily rhythms or cycles
- Try to spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative.
- Try not to isolate yourself, and let others help you.
- Continue to educate yourself about Bipolar Disorder