What Is Bipolar Disorder and How Can You Deal with It?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression is a mental condition which causes extreme euphoria or depression. The period of these mood swings may last for weeks or even months. As a result of this disorder, you will find it hard to perform day-to-day tasks. Moreover, bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. There is no permanent treatment for it but it can be managed through a proper treatment plan and medications that should be taken using medicine taking app. In case of no treatment, bipolar disorder can provoke suicidal thoughts in the patient.

What are the types of bipolar disorder?

There are three primary types of BP all of which include mild to extreme mood swings along with a change in activity and energy levels.

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I disorder features manic episodes lasting for at least 7 days. In some cases, the episodes are so severe that the patient may require immediate hospitalization. In case of a severe manic phase, you may experience psychosis (losing touch with reality) suicidal, violent, or aggressive behavior, and putting others at risk of harm. Bipolar I disorder is sometimes also called manic depression.

Bipolar II Disorder

People with this condition rarely experience severe mania. Rather they experience episodes of hypomania (raised energy level and impulsiveness). The episodes of hypomania are then followed by a major depressive phase. However, the symptoms of bipolar II disorder are not as severe as the symptoms of manic depression.

People with this condition are often wrongly diagnosed with just major depression because more often than not, they look for medical assistance only during the depressive episodes.

Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)

This condition involves light mood swings along with multiple episodes of mild hypomania and depression. A person is said to have cyclothymia if they have had these symptoms for at least two years. Much like bipolar II disorder, cyclothymia may also be misdiagnosed with just major depression.

What Are the Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder?

Several studies are in progress on the possible causes of BP. The findings so far agree that the issue does not stem from a single problem. Instead, multiple factors contribute to its development and increase the risk. Those factors may include:

Brain Structure

Studies have shown that the brain structure of people with BP differs from the brain structure and functioning of healthy people or those with other mental disorders. However, more studies are being done in an attempt to learn more about these differences and help scientists better understand this condition.

Genetics Formation

Your genes may also play a key role in increasing or decreasing your risk of bipolar disorder. According to experts, people with certain genetic formation are more likely to develop this condition than others. However, genes are not the only contributing factor for bipolar disorder. In some cases of identical twins, it was observed that even when one of the twins developed BP, the other one did not show any signs of having this disorder, even though identical twins share same genetic formation.

Family History

Family history is also one of the major risk factors for bipolar disorder. If one of your parents or siblings have BP, your risk of developing this condition will automatically become higher than those who do not have this issue in their family. In any case, it is essential to know that most people with a family history of BP will not develop the illness.

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

Since bipolar disorder is categorized into two major forms i.e. hypomania and depression, its symptoms can vary based on the type of condition that appears. Common symptoms of mania or hypomania include:

  • Elevated mood, euphoria
  • Racing thoughts
  • Hyperactivity, increased energy
  • Excessive talking
  • Lack of self-control
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Reckless behavior
  • Impulsiveness
  • Impaired judgment
  • Little need for sleep
  • Excessive anger
  • Easily agitated or irritated

These are only the symptoms of bipolar I disorder. People with bipolar II disorder may also experience the same symptoms but with less intensity. Additionally, the symptoms of bipolar disorder’s depressive phase include:

  • Persistent sadness
  • low self-esteem
  • Fatigue or lethargy
  • Sleep issues
  • Excessive sleepiness
  • Inability to sleep
  • Eating disorders
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawal from all activities that you once enjoyed
  • Isolation
  • Suicidal thoughts

Excessive use of alcohol may also provoke some of the BP symptoms. In fact, alcohol or drug abuse may itself be a sign of the bipolar disorder. Therefore, you should avoid using alcohol and other recreational drugs if you have been diagnosed with this condition.

What other conditions can worsen bipolar disorder?

Patients with bipolar disorder may also have other health issues that need treatment. Some of the conditions that can make your BP worse or the treatment less effective include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Alcohol or drug problems
  • Heart disease
  • Thyroid problems
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

What factors will a physician consider to diagnose bipolar disorder?

Physicians consider a number of factors to diagnose BP. Examples include:

  • Observing your behavior and mood
  • Obtaining information about your medical history, including the medications you take or took in the past using pill tracker app
  • Asking how long did your latest mood swings last
  • Asking about your family medical history, particularly if anyone in your family has or had this illness
  • Requesting laboratory tests to check for drug levels
  • Reviewing the results of your latest blood tests
  • Asking how does your family view your condition
  • Advising you to maintain a daily chart of your mood and sleep patterns

When to see a doctor?

Despite the frequent changes in mood, people with BP don’t often realize how much their condition affects their lives and the lives of people around them.

In case you are one of those individuals who like the feeling of euphoria, remember that this feeling is always followed by an extreme episode of depression that can leave you mentally exhausted, worn out, and perhaps in trouble at work or school.

Besides, if you have any symptoms of BP, immediately see your mental health specialist. Note that bipolar disorder doesn’t get better without treatment. So, a mental health professional is the only person that can help you get your symptoms under control.

What are treatments are therapies to manage bipolar disorder?

Treatments and therapies help you gain better control of your bipolar symptoms. An effective treatment plan typically comprises a mix of medication and psychotherapy. As mentioned earlier, bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and the episodes of mania and depression keep coming back over time. Therefore, long-term and continuous treatment is the only way to go.

Medications

Many types of medications are available to control bipolar symptoms. You may need to try several different meds using free pill reminder app before finding the most appropriate one.

Medications commonly used for bipolar disorder management include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Atypical antipsychotics

Psychotherapy

Also known as “talk therapy”, psychotherapy works best when combined with medications. The common examples of talk therapy for bipolar disorder include:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
  • Psychoeducation

Finally, family focused therapy, sleep medications, and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) are other treatment options that mental health experts use to manage this condition.

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