Bipolar Disorder, also commonly known as manic-depressive illness, is a medical mental condition involving extreme mood and energy level fluctuations, which as a result affect the individual’s ability to perform normal day to day activities. The cycles manifest at both extremes, varying from feeling highly energized and emotionally charged to immensely depressive or low moods. These may occur for no apparent reason at any time of the day, week or month. These mood shifts are of varying frequency and the extent primarily depends on the severity of the ailment. The condition is long-term and may adversely impact not only your routine activities but also lower your self-esteem and confidence. In fact, sufferers may have a higher risk of attempting suicide if left untreated.
The bipolar disorder often appears in later years of life, with more than half of the cases beginning during the teenage years. The affliction may also occur during the childhood but is normally discovered later in life, similar to diabetes and heart disease, as the condition is not easily identifiable at its early stages. According to the National Institute of Mental health, 5.7 million American adolescents or almost 2.6 percent of the entire U.S adult population reports of fighting with this disorder.
People with bipolar disorder struggle with the abrupt onset of intensified emotions, variable sleep patterns, and drastic behavioral changes. Because these mood shifts are sudden and distinct from a person’s natural behavior, they are termed as ‘mood episodes’; categorized as manic and depressive episodes leading to extreme feelings of joy or hopelessness. However, there are other mood episodes also, which can be categorized as neither elated nor depressive: (hypomanic) or both (mixed). Mixed state episodes maybe experienced as feeling agitated and displaying a restless behavior. Meanwhile during hypomanic episodes the person might seem to be completely unaware of his rapid mood swings.
These episodes might also be followed by certain psychotic symptoms including hallucinations and delusions. Such signs and symptoms are often an extreme side of any particular mood.
Manic Phase of Bipolar Disorder
Patients during their manic episodes may depict symptoms such as:
Being highly energetic
Talking and thinking rapidly
Feeling irritable, agitated and jumpy
Extreme elevation in mood
Depressive Phase of Bipolar Disorder
The depressive phase of the disorder is characterized by symptoms of:
Feeling grumpy or disgruntled
Feeling tired and energy-deprived
Melancholic moods with a sense of foreboding
If you or somebody around you appears to be depicting such extreme episodes of mood fluctuations, try to remain calm and keep the patient in a relaxed environment and call 866-926-1149 for further help.
Causes and Risk Factors
Although the no definite cause of the disorder can be established, healthcare experts have determined that hormonal imbalances, those of serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, are involved along with other risk factors; mainly genetics and family history, while even mental abuse, stress or psychological trauma are also to blame and trigger the symptoms or sometimes be the cause behind the disorder.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Bipolar disorder, if left untreated, will continue to adversely affect the individual and may worsen with time. Doctors will first establish the right diagnoses after a thorough insight into Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and mainly attempt to stabilize the patient’s mood swings using various treatment options, the best of which is a combination of medications and counseling.
Medications can be of numerous types and doses varying with the individual and his stage of the condition. Most commonly prescribed medications include:
–Mood stabilizers: These are typically known to treat Manic or hypomanic episodes. Examples are lithium, valproic acid, carbamazepine, divalproex sodium and lamotrigine.
–Anti-depressants and Anti-Psychotics: Your doctor may prescribe you both in one medication as if available (fluoxetine and olanzapine in combination) or individually, depending upon the persistence of the particular episode and the timing. Common examples are olanzapine, risperidone, aripiprazole or ziprasidone.
–Hypnotics and anti-anxiety drugs: For assuring normal sleep cycle health practitioners often go for symptomatic treatment thus availing advantages from benzodiazepine class drugs.
Remember, choosing the right medication and being aware of the side effects that your body may have to bear can best be decided by your physician after a number of trials.
Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder
Medications are followed by psychotherapy sessions by your psychiatrist. People with bipolar disorder are often recommended to keep taking therapy settings for their entire life instead of relying on medications as they prove to authentically deal with the feelings, thoughts, emotions and behaviors experienced by those suffering from it. Psychotherapies may either be conducted one on one or in a setting involving family or friends. Some implied therapies include:
Behavioral therapy: In an attempt to change the behavior of the patient.
Cognitive therapy: Focusing on how that individual perceives things and what can be emphasized to modify his thinking pattern.
Interpersonal therapy: Works on your relationships, which are being affected due to your underlying mental condition.
Social rhythm therapy: Encourages you to develop a predictable day routine and follow a sleep pattern.
Besides this, there are many other effective ways to manage and control Bipolar disorder. Being more aware of your medical condition and accepting it always aids you in adapting to it and preparing yourself for taking precautions from worsening it. It also helps to have supportive friends and family members working with you, speeding up your recovery and encouraging you to live healthily. Therefore, isolating yourself is not a solution to treat any mental condition.
How to find treatment for Bipolar Disorder
A family physician or practitioner is always the best option for the patient’s treatment as he and the patient are familiar with each other. The physician also already has the patient’s case history and so can contacting them could be the first line of action.
The Geo Metric Visions Website has a treatment services locator which may guide and assist you in finding the treatment information according to your address, city or ZIP code.
For general information or in times of crisis please call 866-926-1149.
Remember, never leave the patient unattended and always ask for help if you or the patient is undergoing a crisis situation.