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Bipolar Disorder Facts - Everything You need to know


What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder, formerly known as manic depression or manic depressive illness, is a mental health condition that can cause intense changes in mood, thinking patterns, behavior patterns, and energy levels. These intense shifts can interrupt your daily life activities and last for hours, days, weeks, and even months. Everyone with bipolar disorder doesn’t need to experience mania or depression. They can also go through just normal mood swings commonly known as euthymia. People who go through significant fluctuations in mood are referred to as manic and depressive episodes.

In Bipolar 1 Disorder, a person must have gone through at least 1 manic episode in life until now, which could have lasted for a week or so without necessarily going through a depressive episode. One of the key features of bipolar 1 disorder is manic episodes. People with bipolar 2 disorder experience a less severe type of mania known as hypomania. Managing the condition is possible through a variety of methods, including taking prescribed medications, engaging in talk therapy, making lifestyle changes, and undergoing other treatments as recommended by medical professionals. With the right combination of strategies, it is possible to effectively manage this condition and improve overall quality of life.

Bipolar disorder can go on for years without any symptoms. Aware of that? That’s just one of the many facts about bipolar disorder (earlier known as manic depression). According to WHO, around 2% of Americans are affected by this disorder, and it is the sixth leading cause of disability. This disorder is not affected by gender as the ratio is almost equal between males and females and it can be diagnosed at any age. However, there are several bipolar disorder medications available to control the episodes. 


Bipolar facts


Symptoms and Diagnostic Criteria

What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is an extremely challenging condition to live with, as it involves significant mood changes that can last for extended periods. The defining characteristic of bipolar I disorder is a manic episode that persists for at least one week. In contrast, individuals with bipolar II disorder or cyclothymia experience hypomanic episodes. However, many people with bipolar disorder experience both hypomanic or manic and depressive episodes, and these mood states may not necessarily follow a predictable pattern.

Depression does not always follow manic phases, and a person may experience the same mood state several times, with periods of euthymia in between, before experiencing the opposite mood. The mood changes associated with bipolar disorder can occur for weeks, months, or even years. The severity of these depressive and manic phases can vary from person to person and may differ in the same individual at different times.

Signs and symptoms of manic episodes include:

  • Excessive happiness, excitement, and hopefulness

  • Restlessness

  • Making big and unachievable plans

  • Suddenly quitting your job, impulsive decisions

  • Reckless and risky behavior

  • Feeling powerful, important, and talented

  • Less need for sleep and an increase in energy

Signs and symptoms of depressive episodes include:

  • Fatigue

  • Low energy

  • Sadness

  • Lack of motivation

  • Irritability

  • Insomnia

  • Uncontrollable crying

  • Difficulty concentration

  • Feeling worthless and hopeless

  • Change in appetite

  • Suicidal behavior and thoughts

How to Diagnose Bipolar Disorder?

Your healthcare provider will use the following methods to diagnose bipolar disorder:

  1. Conduct a physical exam.

  2. Will thoroughly examine your past history like your previous symptoms, experiences, family history, and whole lifetime history

  3. To rule out other medical conditions, a physician will instruct to do some blood tests.

  4. Proper mental health examination. You will be referred to a psychiatrist or a psychologist for further evaluation.

Also Read:- Know All About Schizophrenia

Different Facts About Bipolar Disorder

Well, moving on, first and foremost, you should be aware of different essential facts about the condition. Scroll down to check out!

  • There are several types of Bipolar Disorder. It is a lot more than just depressive episodes. Bipolar Disorder I is all about manic episodes. Bipolar Disorder II is about major depressive episodes. The third type is Cyclothymic disorder, in which both attacks occur alternatively.

  • Patients can sometimes experience manic and depressive episodes at the same time. In such mixed episodes, both symptoms are seen, and episodes are generally a high-risk condition. The patient should be taken to the doctor immediately.

  • Bipolar disorder and suicide are strongly linked. More than 25% of patients might attempt suicide. This is due to a depressive condition, leading to hopelessness. Professional treatment for suicide prevention can help in decreasing this risk.

  • The length of the episodes is different for different patients. While some studies refer that manic episodes last for a week and depressive ones for two weeks, this time frame varies and can last longer.

  • More than 35% of bipolar disorder patients are living with obesity. The reason behind the exact link to both is not yet identified. The potential explanation might be the high rate of diabetes and heart disease among bipolar disorder patients leading to obesity.

  • The diagnosis for the disorder takes time. If the patient is suffering from a manic disorder, they won’t even realize it as who would want to rush to the doctor if they are having an exciting and happy time. In cases of depressive episodes, the disorder is often misdiagnosed as depression.

  • Children and teenagers too can have bipolar disorder. The diagnosis is even more difficult in these as they won’t fit the diagnosis criteria. Children might also have a mental or behavioral health condition, which makes diagnosis more tricky.

  • The symptoms of bipolar disorder can worsen during pregnancy, and women are likely to experience frequent episodes of manic or depression. After childbirth, this increases even more for a few months. The symptoms are triggered by hormones, getting stressed on little things, and lack of sleep.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options

Treatments and therapies can help many patients, even those suffering from severe types of bipolar disorder. An effective treatment option for bipolar disorder can be one of the options or a combination of the following options given below:

  1. Psychotherapy – Therapies for bipolar disorder are psychoeducation, Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), family focussed therapy, and Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

  2. Medications – Pills like mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants are used to treat bipolar disorder.

  3. Changes in lifestyle like exercising, meditation, and yoga. These strategies will definitely help you.

  4. You can also opt for therapies like ECT, ie, electroconvulsive therapy, in cases where medication is not responsive or where you need instant results or control over symptoms to prevent severe harm.

People with bipolar disorder can live a healthy and prosperous life. All it takes is adopting a healthy lifestyle, getting proper therapies and medications when needed to control the episodes. If you are experiencing frequent attacks, consult your doctor to know the suitable treatments. Try different proven treatments to lower down the symptoms and improve the quality of life. Have a great day!

Also Read: Bipolar Disorder Medications & Drugs: You Should Know About

Medically Reviewed By:

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(Dr. A. Sharma, PharmD, is a licensed pharmacist and a medical writer with 10 years of clinical experience. He strives to empower patients to understand their medications so that they become better healthcare advocates.)


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