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Wondering if you might be dealing with bipolar disorder is a significant step towards understanding and managing your mental health.
I remember how whenever someone is acting in a certain way, my friend Patricia’s favourite and most used word was ‘Bipolar’. She always goes whining with a hilarious facial expression and would be like that dude is definitely bipolar; are you sure that girl is not bipolar?‘ (LOL). The rate at which she gets funnily dramatic while using the word almost made it sound like some sort of joke and not the real thing because it now seemed like everyone was bipolar as far as she was concerned. But what exactly do people mean when they actually say a person is Bipolar?
What does it mean to be bipolar?
The word bipolar is a word that is often used to describe people who are always at sudden extremes at moods. Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behaviour.
People who have bipolar disorder can have periods in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad, hopeless, and sluggish. Both the manic and depressive periods can be brief, from just a few hours to a few days. Othertimes, the cycles can be much longer, lasting up to several weeks or even months. You can think of the highs and the lows as two poles of mood, which is why it’s called bipolar disorder.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, this Medical condition known as bipolar disorder can be categorized into four major categories:
Each of these disorders can be recognized by the manner and form the episodes of the mania and depression often take.
Bipolar I disorder(mania and depression)
This type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed when manic episodes last at least seven days and are accompanied by psychotic features, or the manic symptoms are severe enough to require immediate hospitalization to prevent harm to oneself or others.
Bipolar II disorder(hypomania and depression)
Bipolar II disorder involves one or more major depressive episodes. Mania is not involved in bipolar II disorder. Instead, the illness involves recurring episodes of major depression and hypomania, a milder form of mania. You must have experienced at least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode in order to be diagnosed with bipolar II disorder. Common symptoms that occur in a major depressive episode include:
-Insomnia or hypersomnia
-Unexplained or uncontrollable crying
-Loss of interest in things the person typically enjoys
-Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Cyclothymic disorder(hypomania and mild depression)
This type of bipolar disorder is much milder. It usually develops in adolescence and consists of reoccurring mood swings but cannot actually be regarded as mania or major depression. People with the disease often appear to function normally, although they may seem “moody” or “difficult” to others. Yes, it is not quite serious but it can be regarded as the stage that can develop into actual bipolar disorder if not taken care of.
Some bipolar disorders don’t have a specific pattern. They also don’t match the other three disorders. This Bipolar disorder is due to another medical or substance abuse disorder. These include, for example, bipolar and related disorders induced by certain drugs or alcohol or due to a medical condition, such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke.
According to researchers, a particular cause of bipolar has not yet been singled out so the cause is unknown. But several factors such as Biological factors, brain changes, hormonal, genetics, stress and environmental factors are all contributing causes to Bipolar disorder.
People with bipolar disorder appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a first-degree relative, such as a sibling or parent, with the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing bipolar disorder.
Hormonal imbalances might trigger or cause bipolar disorder.
Neurotransmitter imbalances appear to play a key role in many mood disorders, including bipolar disorder.
Abuse, mental stress, a significant loss or some other traumatic event may contribute to or trigger bipolar disorder.
How do you spot the signs and symptoms of this psychological disorder?
Well, oftentimes People may experience:
Mood swings, sadness, elevated mood, anger, anxiety, apathy, apprehension, euphoria, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, or loss of interest or pleasure in activities
Irritability, risk-taking behaviours, disorganised behaviour, aggression, agitation, crying, excess desire for sex, hyperactivity, impulsivity, restlessness, or self-harm
Unwanted thoughts, delusion, lack of concentration, racing thoughts, slowness in activity, or false belief of superiority
Depression, manic episode, agitated depression, or paranoia
Weight gain or weight loss
Difficulty falling asleep or excess sleepiness.
Fatigue or pressure of speech
How severe it can get differ from person to person and can also change over time, becoming more or less severe.
If you suspect that you’re suffering from bipolar disorder, it’s important to seek help right away. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that runs an unpredictable course of ups and downs. When left untreated, these ups and downs can be devastating.
After being diagnosed by your doctor, your doctor would then carve out a treatment option that would be best for you. You may also be referred to another mental health professional, such as a psychologist; counsellor; or a bipolar disorder specialist. Together, you will work with your healthcare providers to develop a personalized treatment plan.
A comprehensive bipolar treatment plan involves Medicated and Non-medicated treatment. Successful treatment of bipolar disorder depends on a combination of factors. Medicated treatment alone is not enough.
Medication is the cornerstone of bipolar disorder treatment. It helps in stabilizing moods. Here are some common categories of bipolar disorder medication you may be prescribed:
- Mood stabilizers – are prescribed to treat manic or hypomanic episodes.
- Antidepressants – are prescribed to treat depressive episodes.
- Antipsychotics – are sometimes prescribed to treat mood episode symptoms in addition to other medications.
It’s important to remember that it may take several tries before you find the medication that works best for you. Report all side effects to your doctor as soon as you can, and consult with them before you discontinue the medication. You should not experiment on your own with dosages.
Therapy is essential for dealing with bipolar disorder and the problems it must have caused. Working with a therapist, you can learn how to cope with difficult or uncomfortable feelings, repair your relationships, manage stress, and regulate your mood. Cognitive-behavioural therapy can help an individual challenge negative thinking patterns and the behaviours that follow.
Family therapy can help family members learn to communicate calmly and effectively and reduce overall stress in relationship systems. Psychotherapy can also provide valuable psychoeducation for problem-solving, developing self-care habits, and building resilience.
Managing symptoms and preventing complications begin with a thorough knowledge of the illness. The more you and your loved ones know about this illness, the better able you’ll be able to avoid problems and deal with setbacks.
By carefully regulating your lifestyle, you can keep symptoms and mood episodes to a minimum. This involves maintaining a regular sleep schedule; avoiding alcohol and drugs; eating a mood-boosting diet; following a consistent exercise program; minimizing stress; and keeping your sunlight exposure stable year-round.
Living with this illness can be challenging, and having a solid support system in place can make all the difference in your outlook and motivation. Participating in a support group gives you the opportunity to share your experiences and learn from others who know what you’re going through. The support of friends and family is also invaluable. Reaching out to people who love you won’t mean you’re a burden to others.
Generally, there is no particular cure for bipolar disorder but the symptoms can be properly treated and managed. So know if you fall into the category of people suffering from bipolar disorder, seek help and properly manage your illness today. Your Mental health is very important.