Bipolar disorder is a common mental health disease. 2.8% of the total adult population has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The average age of affected people is 25 years old. However, symptoms may start showing at an early age or even adolescence.
Bipolar disorder may affect a person’s daily life. It may disrupt usual activities and family relationships. It is a cycle of mood swings that can be exhausting to the affected person. Symptoms affected by hormones can worsen during and after pregnancy.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression or manic-depressive illness. A person diagnosed with bipolar disorder experiences two peaks of moods; (1) very happy and energetic (2) very sad and down mood. It is called bipolar because it is two poles of mood, and everything is normal in between.
The “manic” episode in a person with bipolar disorder exhibits an overly energetic, irritable, excitement, or happiness. This may affect their decision-making and the daily routine of their lives. A slightly milder maniac episode that doesn’t disturb a person’s daily activities is called hypomanic. The depressive episodes show extreme sadness, feeling down, and hopelessness.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder has three main types. All of them experience mood swings, changes in activity, and energy levels. A mental health disorder that shares the same symptoms but does not belong to the category is called “other unspecified and specified bipolar-related disorder.”
Bipolar I Disorder
A person with Bipolar I disorder shows episodes of mania or hypomania that lasts at least one week. They may also exhibit severe manic symptoms that may need to be brought to a hospital. The depressive episodes are also severe and last at least 14 days. It is also possible that manic and depressive episodes can happen at the same time.
Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II disorder is characterized by having depressive episodes the same as Bipolar I. However, the manic episodes are usually not severe. They only show hypomania symptoms and do not need hospital attention.
Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)
Symptoms in Cyclothymic Disorder last up to a year during adolescence and childhood. Adults may experience the symptoms for up to two years. A person with cyclothymia also experiences hypomania and depressive moods. Although, it does not last long and not as severe as the first two disorders.
What Causes and the Risk Factors of Bipolar Disorder?
There is no single evidence on what causes bipolar disorder. There is still ongoing research into the causes responsible for bipolar disorder. One risk factor of bipolar disorder that scientists see is brain function and structure. A person with bipolar disorder shows a different brain than a person without the disorder. This helps them understand this mental health disorder and better provide treatment and medication.
Bipolar disorder may also run in the blood. A person with a family member diagnosed with bipolar disorder has a greater risk of having it. Persons undergoing other mental health disorders like posttraumatic stress disorder and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can develop complications that can lead to bipolar disorder.
How to Know if Someone Has Bipolar Disorder?
A person with bipolar disorder may show different symptoms. It may be in mood swings or often called an episode. It can be manic or depressive symptoms. Sometimes, it is both at the same time.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder in manic episodes:
- Active than usual
- Very irritable, jumpy, or touchy
- Needs less sleep
- Feeling very elated, up, or high
- Poor judgment skills, indecisive, spending too much, engage in reckless sex, eating and drinking too much.
People with bipolar disorder in depressive episodes may experience symptoms like:
- A feeling of need to isolate yourself from other
- The feeling of sadness and hopelessness
- Sleeping a lot
- Lack of interest in daily activities
- Problems with making decisions or concentration
- Thinking about suicide
The severity of the symptoms differs for each person. Some may have severe symptoms, and some may experience it mildly. The people around will notice these symptoms, while the affected person does not notice any changes.
If you have seen the movie Silver Linings Playbook starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper, you will have an idea of how a person with bipolar disorder acts. The character of Bradley Cooper named Pat has bipolar disorder.
Can Bipolar Disorder Be Treated?
There are many treatments available for bipolar disorder. The goal of these treatments is to stabilize the changes in mood and the severity of the symptom of the person. Bipolar Disorder has a wide range of symptoms. Thus, correct diagnosis and treatment may take time.
A healthcare professional may use different tools to diagnose bipolar disorder. It may include a physical exam, medical history, tests, and mental health evaluation. This is to rule out other mental health disorders that may have the same symptoms as bipolar disorder. Each person reacts differently to each treatment. It may involve a combination of therapies that includes counseling, medication, lifestyle remedies, and physical intervention.
Drug treatments help in the stabilization of the person’s changes in mood and symptoms. Doctors may prescribe a combination of medicines to find the best treatment. They may also adjust the dosage over time.
Medication can be/or a combination of:
- mood stabilizers like lithium
- anticonvulsants for manic episodes
- second-generation antipsychotics
- medications to help ease anxiety and to induce sleep
The goal of lifestyle change is also to manage the mood and symptoms. Maintaining a routine, healthy food, and getting regular exercise may help with the treatment. For sleep management, having a regular sleeping pattern and preventing sleep disturbances will aid the symptoms.
Therapy With a Mental Health Professional
Different kinds of therapy can help the person with bipolar disorder to identify and manage their episodes. One of these is psychotherapy, which is also known as talk therapy. It is a collective term for a variety of treatments. This will give the affected person and their family support, knowledge, coping strategies, and skills to manage bipolar disorder episodes.
Another form of therapy is cognitive-behavior therapy. This approach is to help the individual to identify and take steps to manage triggers like stress. It also helps stabilize moods as long as possible. This also engages family members, friends, and other social groups to understand and help manage bipolar disorder, especially in children.
Where to Find the Best Therapist for Bipolar Disorder?
If you’re looking for a therapist for bipolar disorder in seniors, adults, children, and teens, Kentucky Counseling Center has a team of the best mental health professionals that can help. Aside from talk therapy, the Kentucky Counseling Center can help people with bipolar disorder connect with support groups to be a part of a supportive community.