What is a Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness is a mental health condition which is accompanied by intense and extreme mood swings in a person. It is actually a brain disorder that prolongs throughout the life. But if given proper treatment, people with this disorder can lead a normal and productive life. A person suffering from this disorder would have mood swings at distinct times, called mood episodes.
The mood episodes in a person are categorized into two, namely manic and depressive or hypomanic. While a person in the manic state feels extremely energetic, happy and unusually irritable, the person with depression feels hopeless and sad. The people with this disorder also show suicidal tendencies.
The bipolar disorder is divided into three different categories. They are:
- Bipolar Disorder I – In this type of disorder, at least one major manic episode occurs between the depressive episodes. The manic episode usually lasts for a period of 7 days. Some people even exhibit mixed feature, i.e., both manic and hypomanic symptoms during this disorder. This is common in both men and women.
- Bipolar Disorder II – It is defined by a series of hypomanic episodes with no major manic episode in between. This type of disorder is widely seen in women.
- Cyclothymic Episode or Cyclothymia – This type of disorder is accompanied by both depressive and manic episodes of less severity compared to the Bipolar Disorders I and II.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The various symptoms exhibited by a person in the manic episode are:
- Excessive happiness
- Highly irritable
- Lack of sleep or insomnia
- Poor Concentration
- Unusually high sex drive
The various symptoms exhibited by a person in the hypomanic episode are:
- Feeling of hopelessness
- Uncontrollable crying
- Changes in the eating habits and appetite
- Loss of energy
- Highly irritable
- Suicidal tendency
Causes of Bipolar Disorder:
There are various causes of bipolar disorders like genetic, environmental, and neurological factors.
- Genetic Factors – People born in the families with their parents or other relatives suffering from this disorder usually have a high susceptibility to this illness. There are many studies which prove the effect of genes on this disorder.
- Environmental Factors – The factors like abusive childhood, excessive stress during childhood/adulthood often cause this type of mental disorder in people.
- Neurological Factors – Injuries or infections in the brain sometimes, cause bipolar disorder in people.
Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
If a person is suspected to have this type of disorder, it is advisable to consult a psychiatrist without delay. A proper and detailed conversation with the patients often helps the doctor to analyze their health condition. Sometimes, the people with this disorder is mistaken to be suffering from depression. Hence, to get a clear diagnosis, a doctor has to talk to the patient’s family and friends to know more about his / her pattern of mood swings. A physical test also has to be taken to rule out the possibility of any other disorder.
How to Treat Bipolar Disorder?
The treatment of a person with bipolar disorder involves both medication and psychotherapy.
Medication – Some of the most widely used medicines are:
- Mood stabilizers like carbamazepine (Tegretol), lithium, lamotrigine (Lamictal) and valproate (Depakote)
- Antipsychotic drugs like olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), lurasidone (Latuda) and cariprazine (Vraylar)
- Antidepressants like fluoxetine-olanzapine (Symbax)
- Short-term anxiety medication like alprazolam (Xanax)
Psychotherapy– This is also known as “talk therapy”. This includes:
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – In this talk therapy, the psychiatrist talks with the patient to understand his/her thinking patterns and also to help him/her manage his disorder.
Psychoeducation – This is a type of counseling held for the patients and their families to understand more about the disorder. This will help them to manage it properly.
Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy – This focuses on the daily activities of the patient and on how to balance and manage them.
The various other treatments include:
- Electroconvulsive Therapy
- Sleep Medications
Also read: Essay on anxiety
Even though the bipolar disease is a lifelong disease, it can be managed by undergoing continuous treatment and therapy. It is the responsibility of both patient and his family to ensure that the medication is not stopped unless otherwise advised by the doctor. If a medication is stopped suddenly, it will worsen the patient’s mental health. In short, bipolar disorder is a disease which cannot be completely cured but it can be controlled and managed with proper medication and therapy.