Bipolar Disorder - Health Center

Bipolar Disorder

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

Bipolar Disorder - Basic Overview 

Bipolar Disorder is a mental disorder which often shows major characteristics like consistent shifts in the mood of a person as well as fluctuations in the level of energy and everyday activities. A person suffering from this disease finds it very hard to concentrate and complete everyday activities. Medically, Bipolar Disorder is also known as manic – depressive disorder. Though not known progressively all over the world, the disease can cause serious mental illness in people can destroy their interpersonal relationships and the tendency to work proactively.

Bipolar Disorder is known so, because one of the major characteristics of the disease is the fluctuation of mood (poles) in a person leading the way from depressive symptoms towards manic symptoms. People suffering from the disease have a fluctuation of their moods between normal; peaks and troughs. There is a common misconception that people suffering from Bipolar Disorder only suffer from ups and downs that we normally feel. However, the patients usually suffer from incapacitation as well as severe maniac tremors. All over the world, more than 10 million people are suffering from this disease and usually males and females equally suffer from the disease. The occurrence is more in the age group of people between 15 and 25 years.

However, the disease is easily treated by timely diagnosis, medications and therapy and, therefore, a person suffering from this malady can function normally in the society and live like others.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder:

Experts all over the world are of the view that there is no one definite cause for the occurrence of Bipolar Disorder.

The causative factor is the occurrence of many factors that act together in order to cause the disease.

1. Genetics: With a large number of twin studies that have been conducted all over the world, a conclusion has been drawn that there is a great genetic contribution towards the occurrence of Bipolar Disorder. Research studies have shown that people who have a blood relative suffering from Bipolar Disorder are at a greater risk of suffering from the disease as compared to their counterparts. Also, studies are going on to determine which gene is responsible for the occurrence of this disease. One of the latest journals covered the fact that the abnormal sequence of DNA’s are the ones which are responsible for the occurrence of Bipolar Disorder.

2. Biological Factors: With the changes in the structure of the brain, it has been indicated that physical changes can have a direct effect on the occurrence of Bipolar Disorder.

3. Chemical Imbalance: Chemicals such as neurotransmitters are present all along the nervous system in order to help the transmission of the nervous impulses all over the body. One of the best known neurotransmitter is Acetylcholine. However, these neurotransmitters are known to greatly cause mood disorders. Dopamine, Serotonin and Norepinephrine are best known to help the nerve cells (neurons) to transmit impulses from the sensory organs to the brain for interception.

4. Hormonal Imbalance: The imbalance of the hormones is also likely to trigger the causing of Bipolar Disorder in people.

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder:

The signs and symptoms of Bipolar Disorder differ from one person to the other. Bipolar Disorder can be differentiated from Schizophrenia because the former lacks the psychotic symptoms, i.e. hallucinations and delusional behavior.

Also, the people suffering from Bipolar Disorder do not suffer from timely episodes of mania and hypomania, which is greatly evident in people suffering from major depressive syndrome.

A person suffers from both Manic (Hypomanic) as well as depressive symptoms while suffering from Bipolar Disorder. The symptoms are different for both the stages.

Symptoms of Manic Episodes:

  • Great feeling of exhilaration as well as euphoria in which a person thinks he can conquer the world.
  • Increased self confidence as well as greater self esteem.
  • Impaired judgement
  • Speaking very quickly
  • Increasing attention towards being involved in risky behavior.
  • Racing thoughts – the thoughts come rapidly and then vanish away.
  • Greater difficulty in concentrating
  • Memory lapse
  • Underperformance at work
  • Delusional thinking and episodes

Symptoms of Depressive Episodes:

  • Sudden feeling of gloom, despair and hopelessness.
  • Overcoming extreme sadness
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Insomnia – difficulty falling asleep
  • Increased anxiety
  • An overcoming feeling of guilt, and finding fault in everything that goes around them
  • Changed eating patterns – eating excessively or stopping eating at all.
  • Losing or gaining weight
  • Feeling tired and fatigued all the time.
  • Becoming bored, with activities which usually entertained earlier.
  • Lower attention span; finding it very hard to focus on anything in particular.
  • Feeling irritated often
  • Often feeling ignored and left out of things
  • Underperformance at work or school.

Categories of Bipolar Disorder:

There are basically three major categories of Bipolar Disorder. They are as follows:

1. Bipolar I Disorder: People suffering from this category of disorder experience generally one manic episode or have had mixed episodes with depressive episodes. While diagnosis is made for this kind of disorder, the psychologists often exclude the episodes such as effects of medications, drugs or other delusional disorders such as schizophrenia.

2. Bipolar II Disorder: People suffering from this disorder have had one or more episodes of depression and therefore, have suffered from at least one Hypomanic episode. The latter stage is less severe as compared to the manic one. A person suffers from symptoms such as insomnia, low level of competitiveness as well as less outgoing personality. Not only that, his energy levels dip low and he delivers lower performance.

3. Cyclothymia: Cyclothymia is categorized basically as Cyclothymic disorder. It is basically seen as a milder form of Bipolar disorder. In this, people suffer from mood swings frequently and these symptoms alternate between moderation with mild depression. A person suffering from this may feel stable, yet at times can experience mania like symptoms, followed by episodes of depression. The pattern of the occurrence of these symptoms can be for more than two years, followed by two months of remaining symptom free. In case of teenagers, the period lasts for 12 months.

The symptoms of Bipolar disorder can occur anytime in a person’s life. Usually, the symptoms are seen more during the teenage or adulthood phase. Also, upon diagnosis the patient can make great improvement and can live with the disease just like a normal person can.

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder:

Diagnosis of a person suffering from Bipolar Disorder can only be made by the psychiatrist on the basis of the experiences of the person. Often, when family and friends observe the abnormalities in the patterns of behavior of the people around them, it leads to the first diagnosis of the person.

There is often a well defined criterion which leads to the diagnosis of the patient. The depressive phase of Bipolar Disorder is the one which is diagnosed first.

A lot of tests are in place, such as blood and urine tests in order to determine the occurrence of the disease.

Treatments for Bipolar Disorder:

The major function that the treatment of Bipolar Disease is to minimize the running symptoms as well as decrease their intensity and occurrence. Treatment is much needed in order to help people facilitate the patients to live a normal life.

In case the symptoms are left untreated, it can lead to the persistence of mania for more than a year.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder consists of a combination of many therapies. Some are listed as follows:

1. Prescription Medications: They are basically used in order to reduce the intensity of depression, mania and hypomania episodes.

2. Depression Triggers: They help the patient in the identification of the manic symptoms and then take the necessary steps in order to deal with depression.

3. Lifestyle Changes: Lifestyle changes are done in order to make the patient adopt the new lifestyle habits and therefore, initiate some beneficial habits such as a good quality sleep, increasing the physical activity. These go on to make sure that the severity of the disease can be lessened.

4. Hospitalization: This is one of the rarest treatments available. Patients who are battling with severe symptoms, especially during the manic phase need to be admitted to the hospital. If the doctors and medical team believe that the patient can harm himself or the others around them, then they need to be hospitalized until they feel better.

5. Antipsychotics: They usually consist of olanzapine, risperidone and quetiapine amongst many others. They can be prescribed if the behavior of the person is very disturbed or severe. Usually, the doctors start with a lower dose in order to minimize the risks and thus decrease the side effects of the same, which include weight gain, constipation, and dryness of the mouth as well as blurred vision.

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