Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition marked by severe altering mood swings. These moods can change rapidly. Phases of emotions may last several days, weeks, or even months. At high peaks, which are referred to as positive moods, a person experiences mania. They exhibit high energy, lack of sleep, and sometimes even loss of touch with reality. They may also become easily distracted and have over confidence in their abilities. At low peaks, which is referred to as negative emotions, a person experiences depression. This will include symptoms of low energy, lack of motivation, and sadness; as well as changes in appetite, loss interest in activities, and even suicidal thoughts.
About 2.5% (approximately 6 million people) of the United States population are at risk for developing bipolar disorder. Men and Women are affected equally. Age of onset is common during adolescence to early 20’s, with 25 being an average age for diagnosis. However, young children and adults as old as 50 can both be diagnosed. People that have immediate family that has this mental illness are more prone to inherit it as well, and it has been estimated that about 80 percent is due to heredity. This means that heredity is not the only cause for this disorder, and other contributing factors may include one’s stress level and environment. Stress can instigate rapid mood shift and cause anger and sadness. Having unhealthy habits like drinking alcohol and using drugs can activate mood swings, as can seasonal changes from summer to winter. In the winter months, lack of sunlight exposure can disrupt the body’s natural circadian rhythm. Multiple traumatizing events may also trigger the illness.
Bipolar Disorder Types
There is more than one Bipolar disorder, and these are classified as Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.
- Bipolar I: Includes rapid and extreme mood swings of mania and depression. It is the most severe of the three sub-types.
- Bipolar II: This is a milder form of mood elevation, and involves emotional shifts that are less extreme than what is seen in bipolar I. Episodes are classified with hypomania and depression. Hypomania is a lesser version of mania. Some of those symptoms are lack of sleep, increase in activity, depression, an increase in happiness.
- Cyclothymic: Involves passing periods of hypomanic symptoms that alternate with brief periods of depressive symptoms. Mood episodes are more manageable not as extensive or as ongoing than what presents in bipolar I and II.
Bipolar Disorder Treatments
Treatments for Bipolar disorder ma include therapy, medication, and hospitalization. Coordination of care is also important so that doctors can communicate amongst each other and assure organized care of the patient. Doctors are able to diagnosed Bipolar Disorder with the proper knowledge and studies. When they have a fuller understanding of the shifts in different moods they can make a more accurate diagnosis. Doctors who treat bipolar disorder need to be specialized so that the diagnosed is not missed or mistaken for something else. It is not always that simple for doctors to diagnose someone with bipolar disorder because other disorders may mimic symptoms, such as borderline personality disorder, social anxiety disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. Once a diagnosis is accurately achieved, proper treatment can follow.
Individual psychotherapy can allow a person to openly discuss their thoughts and feelings, as well as assist in monitoring symptoms and behavioral dysfunctioning. It can also help to build a positive self-image, while identifying maladaptive patterns. Group therapy can provide social support with others who are struggling with bipolar disorder.
Medications can help keep symptoms levels. Commonly prescribed drugs include anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, and SSRIs. Lamotrigine is an anticonvulsant drug used to treat seizures and bipolar disorder. Ziprasidone is an antipsychotic drug that can treat both Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Fluoxetine is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) drug prescribed to treat depression, OCD, panic disorder, and binge eating. Lithium can be very effective for treating symptoms of mania.
Hospitalization is considered a type of supportive care that is only used in extreme circumstances as a brief stay to stabilize a person’s symptoms. A person’s mood may be worsening, and the hospital can be a safe place for to integrate coping tools and learn about triggers to prevent reoccurring episodes and rapid mood shift.
Bipolar disorder cannot be prevented, but the mood swings that occur can be controlled with proper treatment. Individuals should also pay attention to their warning signs and triggers; and establish healthy living habits such as abstaining from smoking and drinking, and taking their medication as directed by the doctor.