Emotions can be tricky: you may be feeling perfectly happy one second and something could happen to make you feel sad the very next minute. It’s just how humans react to what’s happening around them. However, in some people, these switches and behaviours can be extreme. People suffering from a mental condition called bipolar disorder present with dramatic shifts in their mood and energy within a short period of time. This condition often goes undiagnosed as people do not know much about it or how to recognize it.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
People with bipolar disorder usually present with two types of episodes: depression and mania. Unlike simple mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks (or even longer).
During the manic phase, the person would present with the following signs and symptoms:
- Excitability with high levels of energy
- Irritated mood
- Inability to sleep at night
- Exaggerated confidence
- Faster speech which is difficult to understand
- Inability to concentrate, easily distracted
- Delusions (false beliefs)
- Hallucinations (false perceptions)
During the depressive period, the person would present with the following signs and symptoms:
- Low or irritated mood
- Loss of interest in the things which used to amuse them in the past
- Either loss of appetite or excessive eating
- Either increase in the weight or loss of weight
- Either inability to sleep or excessive sleeping
- Agitated behaviour
- Loss of confidence
- Feeling of worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate
- Inability to make decisions
- Suicidal thoughts and even attempts
Are there different types of bipolar disorder?
There are three types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I Disorder: In this type, the person would present with manic episodes that last at least 7 days. Depressive episodes could occur as well and can last for 2 weeks.
- Bipolar II Disorder: In this type, the person shows depressive episodes but the manic episodes are milder.
- Cyclothymic Disorder: In this type, the periods of manic symptoms and depressive symptoms last for at least 2 years.
What causes bipolar disorder in a person?
The causes of bipolar disorder are:
- Stress: Stressful events in life can lead to bipolar disorder in a person. Such stressful events could be the end of a relationship, physical, sexual or emotional abuse or the death of a family member or loved one. The stress could also be due to a sudden change in life such as getting married, going away to college or losing a job.
- Genetics: Experts have noted that if the parent has a history of bipolar disorder, it increases the possibility of their child to get the same disorder.
- Chemical imbalance in the brain: Doctors have seen that bipolar disorder could be a result of chemical imbalances in the brain. The chemicals that help in maintaining the brain’s functions are noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine.
- Substance abuse: Drugs like cocaine and amphetamines can trigger mania and alcohol and tranquillizers can trigger depression in a person.
Can bipolar disorder be treated?
The treatment for bipolar disorder aims at reducing the severity and frequency of depressive and manic episodes. Most people with bipolar disorder are given a combination of treatments such as the use of drugs like lithium and other anticonvulsant and antipsychotic medicines which help in calming the person. Along with drugs, the person is given psychological therapies to improve their quality of life. They can also be introduced to exercises and planned activities which may give them joy and a sense of achievement.
For more information, read our article on Bipolar Disorder.
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