Mental Illness/ Psychological Disorders

Bipolar Disorder


  • It is a mental condition that is fairly common.
  • About 1 in 100 people will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point in their lives.
  • The pattern of mood swings in bipolar disorder varies widely from one person to another.
  • Episodes of mania and depression often last for several weeks or months.
  • Stressful situations often lead to symptoms of bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder? 
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). In between those periods, people with bipolar disorder usually feel normal. 

Other Names:
Manic depression

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown; however, it's believed that a mixture of material, environmental, and social factors can can trigger an episode. 
These include: 
  • A chemical imbalance in the brain in the levels of neurotransmitters. They are chemicals responsible for controlling brain functions (e.g, Noradrenaline, Serotonin, and Dopamine).
  • Genetics: bipolar disorder is believed to be genetic.
  • Stressful situations often lead to symptoms of bipolar disorder.
  • Extreme stress
  • Overwhelming everyday life problems (e.g, money, work, relationships).
  • Life-changing events (e.g, Death of a loved one).
  • Sleep disorders.

Risk factors: 
  • Genetics. Bipolar disorder can run in families. 80-90% of individuals with bipolar disorder have a close relative who either has depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Environmental factors.
  • Severe exhaustion, sleep disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse can lead to episodes in people who are at a higher risk of developing bipolar disorder. 

A person with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of depression and mania. They may occasionally experience normal periods. A person with bipolar disorder experiences symptoms of depression and mania together (mixed condition). For instance, they may feel hyperactive and depressed at the same time.

During a depression episode, a person with bipolar disorder may:
  • Feel very sad, “down,”, or worried,
  • Feel slowed down and have difficulty concentrating and remembering things,
  • Feel empty and lose interest in daily activities,
  • Feel guilty or hopeless,
  • Feel pessimistic,
  • Feel a lack of self-esteem,
  • Experience hallucinations and have disturbed or illogical thinking,
  • Experience a loss of appetite,
  • Have difficulty sleeping,
  • Wake up too early,
  • Have suicidal thoughts.  

Symptoms of manic episodes include: 
  • Feeling very “up,” “high,” or elated, 
  • Talking very fast,
  • Feeling jumpy and energetic,
  • Feeling unusually important, talented, or powerful,
  • Having big ideas and making lots of plans,
  • Experiencing hallucinations and having disturbed or illogical thinking,
  • Having a decreased need for sleep.

When to see a doctor?
  • When you have suicidal thoughts, 
  • When you experience depressive or manic episodes, 
  • If you were previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and noticed the symptoms reemerging or noticed new symptoms. 

Stopping or taking bipolar disorder medications in an incorrect way may cause its symptoms to return, and could possibly lead to the following complications:
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors, 
  • Drug abuse, 
  • Crime. 

 A diagnosis is usually made based on the symptoms a person is experiencing, their medical history and experiences, and family history. Some tests may be required (e.g, Thyroid gland test to check for thyroid disorders), 

Treatment aims to reduce the severity and frequency of episodes of depression and mania to provide patients with normal lives. If left untreated, bipolar disorder’s manic episodes can last up to 3-6 months.

A person with bipolar disorder may need to go on one or more types of treatment, including: 
  • Medications to prevent episodes of mania and depression known as (mood stabilizers).
  • Medications to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they occur.
  • Recognizing the causes and symptoms of a depression or manic episode. 
  • ​Psychotherapy that helps patients deal with depression and understand how to improve their relationships with others.
  • Lifestyle advice, such as Getting regular exercise, planing enjoyable activities that give a sense of accomplishment, improving diet, and getting more sleep.

Can people with bipolar disorder get better and live a normal life? 
Yes. This can happen if you receive treatment and enhance your skills to live with the condition as well as get the support you need. You can manage your symptoms while you’re leading a normal life.  

Myths & Truths:
  • The pattern of mood swings in bipolar disorder looks the same in all people.
    • Truth: Some people only have a few episodes in their lives, with an otherwise stable life in between those episodes. Others have multiple unstable episodes. They experience depression more than mania. Mania can also be so mild that it goes unrecognized.
  • Aside from taking medications, there isn't much else to do to control bipolar disorder. 
    • Truth: Medications play a major role in treating bipolar disorder; however, treatment strategies and self-help also play a big role. You can help control symptoms by: 
    • Getting regular exercise;
    • Getting enough sleep;
    • Maintaining a healthy diet;
    • Monitoring your mood;
    • Limiting stress; 
    • Surrounding yourself with supportive people.

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Last Update : 08 April 2021 06:01 AM
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