We all experience mood changes in response to life events, but it is also been observed that some people’s mood fluctuate up and down more frequently. They have extreme moods of feeling really high, active and euphoric or feeling really low and depressed. If you see any person behaving maniacally, then it’s time for you to know that the person is suffering from a very life threatening mental disorder known as “Bipolar Disorder.” It is estimated that around 10 million people in India suffer from bipolar disorder. Catherine Zeta Jones, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Russell Brand, Yo Yo Honey Singh are some of the celebrities suffered from bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (hypomania or mania) and lows (depression). There is continuous up’s and down’s and shift in person behaviour, making it very difficult to do day to day activities. Some people might try suicide attempts too, if they are not able to control the mood swings. It can begin at any age, but half of the symptoms are seen between the ages 15 to 25. There are different types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar 1 disorder
- Bipolar 2 disorder
- Cyclothymic disorder
- Other types which is induced by drugs, alcohol or due to Cushing’s disease
Few warning signs of bipolar disorder:
Signs of depression
- Change in appetite
- Feeling extremely tired or lack of energy
- Feeling sad or hopeless for longer period of time
- Having problems with memory, concentrating and decision making
- Speaking slowly
- Trying or thinking suicide attempt
- Withdrawing from society
Signs of mania
- Decrease need of sleep
- Engaging in risky behaviour, such as having impulsive sex, gambling with life savings, spending a lot of money on shopping
- Feeling happy for longer period of time
- Feeling restless or impulsive
- Getting easily distracted
- Showing overconfidence in ability
- Talking rapidly
Symptoms in children and teens
It’s difficult to identify symptoms of bipolar disorder in children and teens. It is difficult to say whether the up’s and down’s are normal or is it due to stress or trauma or signs of mental health problem. The pattern of bipolar episode in children and teens are different than that of adults. Children and teens are more likely to show tantrums, rapid mood changes, outburst of aggression, anger and reckless behaviour.
Most scientists agree that there is no single cause for bipolar disorder. Many factors like genetics, biological trait, brain chemical imbalance, hormonal problems, some traumatic event and environmental factors contribute to bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose unless you have severe mania, symptoms are hard to spot. If at all the psychiatrist suspects bipolar, then he or she may use different approaches to diagnose:
- Mental health evaluation, wherein doctor would talk to patient’s relatives and friends
- Mood charting diary to keep track of sleep pattern and mood swings
- Physical examination to rule out any other condition that can cause symptoms
Bipolar disorder is based on self reported experience of the patient’s behaviour abnormalities by family members. Hence, it is important to recognize these day to day changes and visit a proper specialist in mental health as soon as possible.
Bipolar disorder can be treated completely, but it takes a longer time. There are many treatment options available which makes patient life easy. They aim to control the effects of episode.
- Behavioral therapy – this therapy seeks to identify and help in changing potentially self destructive and unhealthy behaviour
- Electroconvulsive therapy – ECT has shown help to 78% of people with depression.
- Hospitalization is less common, since if doctors feel that there is risk that patient might harm others in that case hospitalization is required.
- Lifestyle advice – doing regular exercise, planing activities you enjoy most, improving diet and getting more sleep
- Medications known as mood stabilizers are prescribed to prevent the episodes of mania, hypomania and depression and are taken for longer time
- Psychological treatment – talking therapy helps you to deal with depression
Bipolar disorder takes longer time to resolve and needs careful management, hence the medications need to be taken for many years even though the patient doesn’t have any episodes of high and low. In case, the person stops medicine without consulting the doctor, then bipolar disorder might relapse. With the right treatment and support, people can win over the bipolar disorder and live life to the fullest.
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Radha K. Iyer is a contributing writer on Treatum Blog. When she is not writing, she can be found reading health and food blogs or experimenting with her culinary skills.
Disclaimer: The entire content of this article is for information purpose only and is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information. It is not a substitute for professional care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem and disease.