Bipolar Disorder is characterised by shifts in extreme moods that include emotional highs (mania) and lows (depression).
More than just fleeting moments of mania and depression, the cycles of bipolar disorder can last from days to months. Nevertheless, these mood swings can occur rarely or many times a year. It affects sleep, energy, thinking and behaviour.
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder are mania, hypomania and depression.
Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. With hypomania, the person is likely to feel euphoric, but will not lose touch with reality. However, hypomania can escalate to full-blown mania, or can be followed by a major depressive episode.
Mania/Hypomania episodes may include:
- Feeling unusually “high” and optimistic
- Exaggerated sense of confidence
- Decreased need for sleep
- Unusual talkativeness
- Racing thoughts; jumping quickly from one idea to the next
- Impaired judgment and impulsiveness
- Engaging in risky behaviours
- Delusions and hallucinations (in severe cases)
Depressive episodes may include:
- Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Decreased energy levels
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep problems
- Problems concentrating or remembering
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Suicidal thoughts
Types of Bipolar Disorder
- At least one manic episode
- May experience depressive episodes
- At least one hypomania and depressive episode
- Less severe manic episode
Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)
- Numerous hypomanic and depressive episodes
- Lasts at least two years in adults and one year in children/adolescents
- Symptoms are shorter and less severe than mania or depression caused by Bipolar l and Bipolar ll
- Bipolar symptoms that do not match the three categories above
There is no one cause for Bipolar Disorder. But genes, brain structure and stress have been linked to Bipolar Disorder.
Those with parents or siblings with Bipolar Disorder are more likely to develop Bipolar Disorder. Certain genes also predispose people to develop Bipolar Disorder. Furthermore, abnormalities in brain structures associated with decision making and controlling impulsive behaviours are linked to Bipolar Disorder.
Experiencing traumatic events such as sexual abuse, or death of a loved one can trigger manic and depressive episodes.
Bipolar Disorder is a long-term condition that requires ongoing care.
Recommended medication includes:
- Mood stabilizers
- Atypical antipsychotics
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy allows people to understand and modify their dysfunctional thinking patterns. They can learn to replace these negative thoughts with more neutral ones. Positive coping strategies can be learnt too.
Psychoeducation is a kind of therapy that involves learning about the disorder. With more knowledge, managing and accepting the disorder can be easier. People are likely to feel more in control of their situation and develop a better capacity to improve their wellbeing.
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy focuses on regulating daily habits, such as sleeping, eating, and exercising. By understanding their social rhythms, they are better able to manage and balance these daily tasks.
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