People usually go through the ups and downs of life accompanied by various moods, feelings and behaviors. It is normal for most people to experience some depression at some point in their lives, as well as great happiness or joy. However, in persons with bipolar disorder which is also known as manic-depressive illness, extreme shifts in moods, activity levels and energy can disrupt their daily life, including their relationships, school performance or jobs. Fortunately, this brain disorder can be successfully treated. Affected individuals can make normal, productive lives.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
1. Bipolar I Disorder
This type of bipolar disorder manifests with at least one episode of mania and one or more episodes of major depression. Men and women are equally affected, although the men are more likely to experience mania first while women are more likely to have a major depression first
2. Bipolar II Disorder
People with this type of bipolar disorder experience major depression and hypomania, instead of mania. A person with hypomania exhibits high energy, excitability and impulsiveness, but their mood is not as extreme as mania. They do not experience delusions or hallucinations. Women are more likely to have this type of bipolar disorder compared to men. Men usually have more hypomanic episodes while women tend to have more depressive episodes.
3. Cyclothymic Disorder
This "mild" type of bipolar disorder is accompanied with less severe mood swings from hypomania to mild depressive episodes.
4. Rapid-Cycling Bipolar Disorder
This is characterized by rapid changes in moods, with patients having four or more episodes of mania, hypomania, major depression or mixed symptoms in one year. Some experience more than one episode per week or within a day. This type of bipolar disorder is more common in younger females.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Since bipolar disorder patients will experience both too hilarious and too depressed moment, this complex mental disorder will have different symptoms, which can vary in every person.
1. Symptoms of Manic Episode
Patients with manic or hypomanic episodes of bipolar disorder may experience:
2. Symptoms of Depressive Episode
Patients with depressive episodes of bipolar disorder may experience:
3. Other Symptoms
Other bipolar disorder symptoms include:
- Seasonal mood changes. Similar to people with seasonal affective disorder, patients with bipolar disorder may experience shifts in moods that occur with changes in seasons. Some become manic or hypomanic in spring or summer, and then experience depression in autumn or winter. Other people have a reversal of these seasonal changes.
- Rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Rapid shifts in moods four or more mood shifts within a year occur in some people, but others may experience mood shifts more quickly within hours.
- Psychosis. Detachment from reality or psychosis is characteristic of severe depression or mania. Symptoms may include delusions like false beliefs and hallucinations like seeing or hearing things that are not there.
4. Special Symptoms in Children and Adolescents
These may include hotheadedness, rapid shifts in mood, aggression and reckless behavior. Mood shifts may occur within hours and a child may exhibit intense periods of silliness, angry outbursts and long periods of crying in just one day.
When to See a Doctor
Consult your mental health provider or doctor if you experience depression or mania. Bipolar disorder does not improve on its own and you may need professional help to be able to control its symptoms.
Causes of Bipolar Disorder
Exactly causes of bipolar disorder are unknown, but several factors may be involved in triggering the bipolar episodes:
- Biological factors. Physical changes in the brain are known to occur in people suffering from bipolar disorder, although the significance of these brain changes is uncertain.
- Neurotransmitter imbalance. An imbalance in brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) plays a role in various mood disorders,as well as bipolar disorder.
- Hormonal imbalance. Hormone imbalance may cause or trigger episodes of bipolar disorder.
- Genetic factors. Bipolar disorder is known to occur in people who have close relatives with the same condition.
- Environmental factors. Factors such as stress, significant loss, abuse and other traumatic experiences may trigger bipolar disorder.
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but its symptoms may be treated to control mood swings. Proper treatment consists of a combination of psychotherapy and medications, so it is important to work closely with an experienced mental health provider.
Medications are often used to help control bipolar disorder symptoms, but patients may respond differently to these drugs. You may have to try different medications to find those that work best. They may have certain side effects, so you must consult your doctor before taking them for long periods.
- Mood Stabilizers. These drugs are usually the first choice for treating bipolar disorder. These include lithium (Lithobid,Eskalith), anticonvulsants such as topiramate (Topamax), Valproic acid, sodium valproate (Depakote), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), lamotrigine (Lamictal) and gabapentin (Neurontin).
- Antipsychotics. These are sometimes taken with other drugs, such as antidepressants,to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder. Atypical antipsychotics include Quetiapine (Seroquel), Olanzapine (Zyprexa), Aripiprazole (Abilify), ziprasidone (Geodon) and risperidone (Risperdal).
- Antidepressants. These prescriptions drugs include Fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil) and bupropion (Wellbutrin).
Psychotherapy, when combined with medications, is effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder. It provides education, guidance andsupport to both bipolar patients and their families. Psychotherapy treatments include:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps patients learn how to change negative thought patterns and harmful behaviors.
- Family-focused therapy, which helps teach family coping strategies that enable them to recognize bipolar episodes early to help their loved ones. It also improves family communication and problem-solving abilities.
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, which helps patients manage daily routines including sleep schedules and improves their social relationships.
- Psychoeducation, which helps teach patients about their illness and the treatments. It helps patients recognize signs of a forthcoming mood swing so that they can seek early treatment before a full-blown episode occurs. Psychoeducation is usually done in groups and may be helpful for caregivers and family members.
3. Other Treatments
- ECT or electroconvulsive therapy. Electrical currents that are passed through the brain are usually given to patients who experience episodes of severe depression, those who do not improve despite other treatments,and those who have suicidal inclination.
- Sleep medications. These drugs may be prescribed for patients who have trouble sleeping. If sleeplessness persists, your doctor may prescribe some sedatives or other medications.
- Hospitalization. Some patients with bipolar disorder may benefit from psychiatric treatment while confined at a hospital, which can help them calm down, stabilize their mood and keep them safe. Other options include day treatment programs or partial hospitalization, which both provide support and counseling while the patients have gotten symptoms under control.
Besides what we have mentioned above, you can try treating bipolar disorder naturally. Watch the video below to learn natural treatments for it: