Bipolar Disorder: What It Is & What To Do

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a type of brain condition that results in significant variations in mood, energy level, and capacity to operate. Bipolar disorder patients endure extreme emotional states over days to weeks, referred to as mood episodes. Manic/hypomanic (excessively cheerful or angry mood) or depressing mood episodes are classified (sad mood). Individuals who have bipolar disorder also experience times of stable mood. Bipolar disorder patients can live whole and productive lives when adequately treated.

Individuals who do not have bipolar disorder also experience mood swings. These mood swings, on the other hand, often last only a few hours rather than days. Additionally, these alterations are typically not accompanied by the high degree of behavior change or trouble with daily routines and social interactions that individuals with bipolar disorder exhibit during mood episodes. The bipolar disease may wreak havoc on a person’s relationships with loved ones and make job and school challenges.

Bipolar disorder is frequently hereditary: 80–90% of individuals with bipolar disorder or depression have a family member who suffers from the illness. Invulnerable individuals, environmental factors like stress, sleep disruption, and drugs and alcohol may precipitate mood episodes. Though the precise causes of bipolar disorder in the brain remain unknown, we believe that an imbalance of brain chemicals results in dysregulated brain activity. On average, patients are 25 years old when they develop the disease.

Bipolar I disorder is usually co-occurring with other mental illnesses, such as anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Suicide risk increases in individuals suffering from bipolar I illness.

Symptoms

Bipolar disorder and associated disorders come in a variety of forms. They may include manic or hypomanic episodes, as well as depression. Symptoms might result in unpredictable mood and behavior changes, causing severe distress and trouble in daily life.

Bipolar disorder type I. You’ve experienced at least one manic episode, which may have been preceded or followed by hypomania or significant depression. Mania may occasionally result in a disconnection from reality (psychosis).

Bipolar disorder type II. You’ve experienced at least one manic episode and at least one significant depressive episode, but never a manic episode.

Cyclothymic ailment. You’ve experienced at least two years — or one year in children and adolescents — of several spells of hypomania and depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression).

Other varieties. These include bipolar and kindred illnesses caused by particular medicines or alcohol and those caused by a physical condition such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.

Hypomania and mania

Mania and hypomania are two distinct but related types of events. It is more severe than hypomania and manifests itself through more visible difficulties at the job, school, social activities, and interpersonal relationships. Mania may also result in a disconnection from reality (psychosis), necessitating hospitalization.

A manic or hypomanic episode will exhibit three or more of the following symptoms:

  • Exceptionally optimistic, jumpy, or wired
  • Enhanced activity, vitality, or excitement
  • Feelings of well-being and self-confidence are exaggerated (euphoria)
  • Reduced sleepiness Unusual talkativeness
  • Thoughts that race
  • Distractibility
  • Poor decision-making — for instance, shopping sprees, sexual risks, or rash investments

Major Depressive Episode

Severe symptoms define a major depressive episode to impair daily functioning, such as job, school, social activities, or relationships. Five or more of these symptoms constitute an episode:

  • Depression manifests itself in a variety of ways, including feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and tearfulness (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)
  • Significant decline in interest or dissatisfaction with all — or nearly all — activities
  • When not on a diet, significant weight loss, weight gain, or a decrease or rise in appetite (in children, failure to gain weight as expected can be a sign of depression)
  • Insomnia or a predisposition for over-sleeping
  • Either agitation or a sluggish pace of behavior
  • Tiredness or energy deficiency
  • Feelings of insignificance or excessive or unjustified guilt
  • Reduced capacity for thought and concentration, or indecision
  • Suicidal ideation, preparation, or attempt

Additional characteristics of bipolar disorder

Other traits such as anxious distress, melancholy, psychosis, or others may be present in the signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II illnesses. Additionally, bipolar symptoms may manifest throughout pregnancy or vary according to the seasons.

Children and adolescents

Bipolar illness symptoms might be difficult to detect in children and adolescents. It’s frequently challenging to determine if these are normal mood swings, the effect of stress or trauma, or symptoms of a mental health disease other than bipolar disorder.

While children and adolescents may experience distinct manic or hypomanic episodes, their patterns may differ from adults with bipolar illness. And sentiments can fluctuate dramatically throughout episodes. Between bouts, some children may experience periods with no mood problems.

The most noticeable indicators of bipolar illness in children and adolescents may include significant mood swings that are out of character for them.

Prevention

There is no guarantee that bipolar disorder can be prevented. However, seeking treatment for bipolar disorder or other mental health issues at the first sign of a problem can help prevent them deteriorating.

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar illness, the following methods may help prevent subtle symptoms from developing into full-blown manic or depressive episodes:

Keep an eye out for warning signals. Addressing symptoms early in the course of an episode can help prevent them from worsening. You may have noticed a pattern in your bipolar episodes and the events that precipitate them. Consult your physician if you believe you are about to enter a manic or depressive episode. Include family members or acquaintances in the process of spotting warning flags.

Abstain from drugs and alcohol. Consuming alcohol or recreational drugs can exacerbate your symptoms and increase their likelihood of recurrence.

Adhere according to the directions on your prescriptions. Withdrawal symptoms may occur if you stop taking your medicine or reduce your dose on your own, or your symptoms may worsen or return.

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