Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression) : Symptoms, types, causes, and treatment

Bipolar Depression

Bipolar disorder, believe it or not, has been around since ancient times! This disorder is one of the most common types of neurological condition that still exists today. 

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder in the United States alone affects around 2% of adults. Nearly 80% of them have been diagnosed as a severe case.

Unfortunately, many people (about 60%) do not receive proper treatment due to many issues such as lack of awareness and knowledge about the disorder, financial incapacity, or social stigma.

                       Table Of Content

What is bipolar disorder? 

Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, is a serious mental health problem. This mental health problem causes symptoms that produce abnormal changes in activity levels, energy mood, and the ability to cope with daily responsibilities

Even though every person experiences the symptom sometimes, the difference is that these symptoms are more severe and intense.

manic-depressive illness symptoms mostly affects individual before they reach the age of 25 years old, but it develops in the young adult stages and adolescence.

Also read:-Does super brain yoga work for depression

Types of bipolar disorder

manic-depressive illness is diagnosed by psychiatrists using the DSM-5 the datum is a diagnostic Statistical Manual it breaks down the symptoms that make up different mental health conditions.

Bipolar I

Bipolar one is also known as referred to as the "high mood" of the illness. Individuals suffering from Bipolar One have experienced at least one depressive or manic episode in their entire life. However, depression is the most prevalent in individuals that suffer from bipolar I. 

Anyone can be affected by this form of bipolar disorder and has already affected over 6 million people in the U.S. alone. The majority of these individuals are in their teens or early 20s and tend to develop in their illness fully before they reach the age of 50.

Also read :- Is Depression Curable? How to Manage Symptoms

Bipolar II

In bipolar II person experiences at least one depressive episode and one episode of hypomania in their lifetime 

Manic episodes are not fully developed in bipolar II as opposed to bipolar I.

Depressive bouts of bipolar II disorder are frequent, last longer, and are usually more severe than the depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder.

Bipolar II is not a milder form of bipolar the deepness of the depression that someone with bipolar experiences is often crushing and and just impairs functioning so greatly that often those with bipolar two disorder don't seek help or when they do seek help they're misdiagnosed with major depressive disorder

Cyclothymia disorder

Cyclothymia disorder is characterized by a chronic, fluctuating mood disturbance with many periods of hypomanic symptoms.It is much milder than the maniac syndrome and calmer than the depressive type.

It is attributed to slightly manic periods, in which a patient experiences mood swings manic periods, in which a patient experiences mood swings

In cyclothymic disorder, your lows are a mild depression not characteristic of full major depression. The highs are hypomania, which is a less extreme form of mania

Your mood skies up during your high but hits bottom again during your low. The key thing is that it is neither full-blown maniac nor depressive.

What Are Depressive Episodes?

A depressive episode is the known counter to manic episodes and has opposite symptoms in most instances. 

While a person experiencing a manic episode might have too much energy, an individual experiencing a depressive episode might find themselves unable to even get out of bed. 

The lack of energy that often comes with a depressive episode is often perpetuated by an unhealthy relationship with sleep, which is another symptom of these episodes.

Also read:- Ashwagandha for depression: Is It Proven to Help?

What Are Manic Episodes? 

Mania is a specific type of bipolar episode that is most commonly known for the excess of energy it causes in the individual. Manic episodes are not necessarily unique to bipolar disorder, as other conditions and certain drugs or medications can induce them. 

Still, they are notable in manic-depressive illness because they are a common symptom for those with this diagnosis, and are considered an active part of the condition.

Causes of bipolar disorder

There are various causes and triggers for Bipolar Disorder. However, the exact cause of the manic-depressive illness is still unknown. Bipolar disorder is more than likely, a combination of many contributing factors. Listed below are some common cause of bipolar disorder

Immune System 

Studies show that people who are being treated for severe infection are 62% more likely to have develop a bipolar disorder than individuals that have never contracted an infection at all.

Environmental Factors 

Environmental factors could also highly be the reason that moulds everything together. The trigger of neurochemical factors in a person with genetic disposition could be activated because of different environmental or outside factors.

Neurotransmitters

The brain uses neurotransmitters to convey specific messages with the nervous system and other parts of the brain. A crash of the neurotransmitters can also play a role in triggering bipolar disorder.

Genetics

Genetics play a significant role in bipolar disorder. manic-depressive illness tends to run in families. Some research has suggested that people with specific genes are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than others.

Brain Formation and structure 

 Research and various scientific studies show the difference between the brain structure of people with bipolar disorder and ordinary healthy people. 

There is no reason as to why their brains formed quite different than others. However, some may argue that it might be because of indirect factors, perhaps during pregnancy, or it may be associated with a specific mental disorder that they might have inherited from their parents.

Gender

Bipolar disorder affects men and women in equal parts. However, women are three times more at risk to undergo rapid cycling of mood episodes. Compared to men, women are also more at risk of experiencing depressive and mixed episodes of the disorder.

Also read:- Exercise for depression: Can exercise treat depression?

Diagnosis for Bipolar Disorder

The psychiatrist will ask some questions to help them reach the correct diagnosis; whether you have bipolar disorder or not, and the most suitable treatments for you.

 The psychiatrist will ask during the assessment about your symptoms and when you first began to experience them. You’ll also be asked about how you usually feel before and during a manic or depressive episode and whether you have had self-harming thoughts. 

Part of the psychiatrist’s job is to ask about your medical background and family history, to help them determine if any of your relatives have or had bipolar disorder. If a family member has the disease, the psychiatrist may ask for your permission to talk to them. 

You may need tests to determine if you have a physical problem, such as an underactive or overactive thyroid, but this depends on your symptoms. If you are diagnosed with manic-depressive illness, you will need regular physical health checks at your doctor’s.

Also read:- Vitamins And Supplements To Help Treat Depression

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Dealing with bipolar disorder will be a lifelong ordeal. Unfortunately, there is no cure for bipolar disorder, but it can be treated efficiently over a long time. Proper and persistent treatment helps many patients with bipolar disorder.

Here are some of the ways you can manage bipolar disorder, and deal with the symptoms better.

Acupuncture 

Acupuncture is another alternative option for the treatment of the bipolar disorder. Some researchers believe that it may help people with bipolar disorder by modulating their stress response. Studies on acupuncture for depression have shown a reduction in symptoms, and there is increasing evidence that acupuncture may relieve symptoms of bipolar disorder

Regular exercise

Physical exercise is essential for everyone and is even more important for persons who have bipolar disorder. Getting out of the house and moving your body is extremely important for your health, and the best way to achieve this is to go for walks.

A study conducted in 2015 showed that exercise could be of great help for people with Bipolar disorder to manage their depression..

Mood stablizer

 In bipolar disorders, mood stabilizers are the cornerstone of therapy. These drugs are neither "stimulants" nor "claimants". As the name suggests, they stabilize the mood and keep it at an adequate level. Commonly people who have bipolar disorder resort to drug treatment for years, and usually for life. 

There are three primary mood stabilizers used in the treatment and prevention of bipolar disease: Lithium (lithium), Epival (Divalproex) and Tegretol (carbamazepine). 

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) 

This kind of therapy can provide relief, especially for people with severe cases of bipolar disorder who were not able to recover from other treatments. 

ECT is also being used to treat bipolar symptoms for people with a different medical condition, including women who are pregnant because taking medications can be too risky. 

However, ECT may also have a short – term side effects such as confusion, memoryloss, and disorientation. The possible effects or risks of ECT should first be discussed with a health professional.

Sleep Medications 

People diagnose with bipolar disorder usually have different sleeping patterns that’s why they have trouble sleeping, usually sleeping medications are prescribed to them by their doctors. However, for some people if sleeplessness is not improved even if they have taken sleeping medications, doctors often recommend sedatives.

Therapy

People with bipolar disorder should receive medication for mood stabilization. But therapy also plays an important role.

Support group

A group of patients or family members who meet to discuss and empower one another in the face of common illness.

Self-help at home

When one is dealing with bipolar disorder, the journey is not very smooth or simple. It should not rule your life for that matter. Even then if you want to manage bipolar disorder successfully, you have to think ahead and make some smart choices. Your daily habits and your lifestyle have a dominating and significant impact on your mental orientation and moods.

Also read:- Best Daily Habits To Overcome Depression

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Bipolar disorder causes a person to have various mood episodes, and usually goes through a rollercoaster of intense emotions, activity levels, behaviours and also has a different sleeping pattern. Whatever type of bipolar disorder you or your family has, you will notice it if you watched out for the following signs.

Signs that a person is going through a Manic Episode:

  1. Experiencing intensive highs, ups or has an elevated mood 
  2. Has lots of abnormal energy or increased level of activity 
  3. Has a feeling of being wired or jumpy or too overwhelmed and excited 
  4. Has trouble sleeping due to constant change in sleep patterns
  5.  Can become more active than usual 
  6. Can talk fast about random and unrelated things 
  7. Can be immediately agitated or irritated Feels like their thoughts are fast or can’t be controlled 
  8. Thinks that they can do lots of different things all at the same time that it could be too overwhelming for an average person
  9.  Are inclined to do reckless things without thinking about it, such as randomly spending lots of money or has strange sexual urges.

Signs that a person is going through a Depressive Episode: 

  1. Usually feels sad, very upset, hopeless or has a feeling of emptiness 
  2. Has little to no energy at all The level of activity in any interest is fleeting or decreasing 
  3. They either sleep too little or too much
  4.  Can’t enjoy the simple pleasures in life Is always worried and anxious 
  5. They can’t focus or has trouble concentrating over something
  6.  Tend to forget things Either eat too little or too much 
  7. Feeling of tiredness even if no strenuous or exhausting activity is being done 
  8. Have suicidal thoughts or have attempted suicide

Symptoms of hypomania are similar to the symptoms of a person with a manic episode, and the only difference is that it is milder, but it is still noticeable. 

Even if the person is feeling well or he/she feels like nothing is wrong with, the signs can be evident. They can be recognized by a mentally healthy person: the mood swings and unacceptable level of activity or unusual changes in behaviour. 

If not treated immediately or adequately, hypomania will most likely progress to severe manic or depression.

Also read:- Paleo Diet And Depression: Reasons to Go Paleo For Depression

How to prevent bipolar disorder

Regular exercise 

People with bipolar disorder are at risk of getting diabetes, heart disease and obesity, that’s why regular exercise can help prevent such diseases. It also helps stabilizes mood swings, cope with depression and improve sleeping patterns. 

Adequate sleep 

Properly sleeping every day can reduce irritability and also helps in proper blood circulation. Make sure to get 8 hours of sleep every day.   

Avoid Unhealthy Relationships 

Try avoiding going into complicated and unhealthy relationships or be with people who can be of bad influence to you. Unhealthy behaviours such as frequent alcohol intake and use of the illegal substance can trigger worse symptoms of bipolar disorder. 

Maintain a Proper Diet 

Balanced nutrition will go a long way for your physical and mental conditions. It can help balance out the chemical imbalances in the brain, improve overall health condition, and protect you from further illness. Eating the right foods can ultimately help you improved your bipolar disorder condition.

Conclusion

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that can be contained and treated through proper and effective treatments. Every individual is different, so treatment and therapy should be applied accordingly.

The most important thing to remember when dealing with bipolar disorder or any mental illness is that you are not helpless. You are capable of having power over your disability.

FAQ

Is bipolar disorder curable?

No, bipolar disorder is not entirely curable, but it is highly treatable. But there is a chance of reoccurrence if the person didn’t complete his or her treatment.

Is it possible to treat bipolar without medication?

Medicines cover most of the part of the treatment of bipolar depression. Without medicine, it is hard to deal with it. As time goes, symptoms seriousness increase and it get hard to manage an everyday lifestyle for a person

Is bipolar depression a disability?

Yes, Bipolar Depression is considered as a disability. Because it can limit a person’s capability to perform daily life tasks. And bipolar effects a person’s ability to think, work, and effect relationships.

Is bipolar serious mental illness?

Yes, Bipolar depression is a severe mental health problem, and this disorder is quite different from typical depression. This disorder makes the person sometimes overexcited, overconfident, and sometimes a person feels such depressed emptiness, sadness, and worthless.

Does Bipolar make you lazy?

Yes, but only during the depressive phase. Bipolar depression has a two-phase mania plus depression. During the mania phase, a person feels overexcited, over-energetic. However, during the depressive phase, one feels stressed, depressed, Lacking energy, and lazy.

Can someone with bipolar live without medication?

Medicines cover most of the part of the treatment of bipolar depression. Without medicine, it is hard to deal with it. As time goes, symptoms seriousness increase and it get hard to manage an everyday lifestyle for a person. 

Is bipolar disorder genetic disorder?

Yes, Researchers shows that genetics may be one of the factor behind the bipolar disorder. 

Do you have to take bipolar medication for life?

The answer to this question is depends on person to person. But in most cases, a person has to take medication for the rest of life. The most commonly included drugs are mood stabilizers, and  Lithium

The person should continue with their medicine for at least two years. This is to reduce the risk of relapse. 

References


An overview of Indian research in bipolar mood disorder. (n.d.). PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3146206/


JCI - Bipolar disorder: From genes to behavior pathways. (2009, April 1). JCI -Welcome. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/37703

A high-risk study of bipolar disorder. (2011, October 1). JAMA Network | Home of JAMA and the Specialty Journals of the American Medical Association. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/1107312

The prevalence and burden of bipolar depression. (n.d.). ScienceDirect.com | Science, health and medical journals, full text articles and books. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032714700035

The bipolar depression electrical treatment trial (BETTER): Design, rationale, and objectives of a randomized, sham-controlled trial and data from the pilot study phase. (2015, March 24). Publishing Open Access research journals & papers | Hindawi. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/np/2015/684025/

Harvard Health Publishing. (2020, June 17). In brief: Treatment for bipolar depression: New studies. Harvard Health.

Treatment of bipolar disorder. (11, May). PubMed Central (PMC).

Bipolar depression: A major unsolved challenge. (n.d.). International Journal of Bipolar Disorders. https://journalbipolardisorders.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/s40345-019-0160-1

Bipolar disorder | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.). NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder





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