The ups and downs of life are inevitable, but in the case of bipolar disorder (which was formerly known as manic depression or manic-depressive disorder), the ups and downs are much more severe. A person with bipolar disorder experiences fluctuations in mood, energy, cognitive functioning, as well as behavioral changes, ranging from extremes of mania to extremes of depression.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is more than just a temporary mood swing; it can last for days, weeks, or even months at a time. Unlike regular mood swings, bipolar disorder triggers intense mood changes, which can adversely affect your performance at work and school, harm your relationships, as well as disrupt your everyday functioning.
An individual suffering from manic depression may impulsively quit their job, make huge purchases on their credit cards, or wake up feeling rested after sleeping for two hours. It is likely that you are too tired to wake up during a depression episode, and you are filled with self-pity and hopelessness about your unemployment and debt.
There is no clear understanding of the causes of bipolar disorder, but hereditary factors seem to play a key role. Most people with bipolar disorder experience their first manic or depressive episode during their teenage years or the beginning of their adult lives. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can appear vague and confusing; the condition is often misdiagnosed or overlooked, thus causing an unnecessary amount of suffering.
Due to the fact that bipolar disorder is likely to become worse if left untreated, understanding its symptoms is extremely important. Taking responsibility for your situation is the first step to feeling better and regaining control over your life.
Myths And Facts About Bipolar Disorder
Myth: Bipolar disorder does not allow you to lead a normal life or get better.
Fact: Despite bipolar disorder, many people have successful careers, fulfilling relationships, and happy families. There is no doubt that living with bipolar disorder can be challenging. Still, by seeking treatment, developing healthy coping skills, and having a solid support system, it is possible to manage the symptoms without sacrificing your quality of life.
Myth: A person with bipolar disorder has bouts of depression and mania.
Fact: People occasionally switch between extreme stages of mania and depression, with depression taking the lead more often than mania. Occasionally, the effects of manic depression are so mild that they go unnoticed. It is also possible for people with bipolar disorder to go without symptoms for long periods of time.
Myth: Moods are the only symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Fact: People suffering from bipolar disorder also experience fatigue, poor judgment, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, changes in appetite, sleep patterns, sexual desire, and low self-esteem. Moreover, bipolar disorder is associated with anxiety, drug abuse, and health conditions that include migraines, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
Myth: Bipolar disorder cannot be controlled by anything other than medication.
Fact: Although medication plays an important role in bipolar disorder treatment, counseling and self-help techniques are also crucial. As far as controlling your symptoms is concerned, you can do this by being physically active, sleeping enough, ensuring your diet is healthy, staying aware of your moods, reducing your stress level, and having supportive people around you.
Signs And Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
There are many different ways that bipolar disorder can appear in different people. There is a wide variation in symptoms’ pattern, severity, and frequency. In some cases, people tend to suffer from either mania or depression, and others alternate between both types of episodes equally. It is common for some individuals to experience frequent mood swings, while others only experience a few over the course of their lives.
In bipolar disorder, mood episodes can be classified into four categories: manic episodes, hypomania episodes, depressive episodes, and mixed episodes. It is important to note that each type of mood episode in bipolar disorder has its own distinct set of symptoms.
When bipolar disorder is in its manic phase, people often feel a sense of heightened energy, an increase in creativity, and a feeling of euphoria. An episode of manic depression may lead to you talking a lot, sleeping little, and being hyperactive. A strong sense of power may also exist in you, along with a feeling that you are invincible and destined to succeed.
The problem with mania is that it can spiral out of control even though it feels good, to begin with. It is possible to behave recklessly during a manic episode: gambling away your savings, engaging in inappropriate sexual activity, or making foolish business investments, for example. The condition may make you angry, irritable, and aggressive, causing you to pick fights, lash out when others disagree with you, and blame others for your behavior problems. It is even possible to develop delusions or hear voices in some people.
There are a variety of signs and symptoms associated with mania, including:
- Experiencing unusual “highs” and optimism OR extreme irritability.
- A false belief in one’s abilities or powers that is unrealistic and grandiose.
- Sleeping very little and feeling extremely energized.
- You talk so fast that other people can’t keep up with you.
- Frequently switching between ideas; racing thoughts.
- Incapable of concentrating due to high levels of distraction.
- An impulsive and unreliable judgment.
- Reckless behavior without consideration of the consequences.
- The presence of hallucinations and delusions (in more severe cases).
A hypomanic episode is a less extreme version of mania. The hypomanic state is characterized by euphoria, energy, and productivity, but it is still possible to carry on with daily activities despite feeling out of control. The mood you seem to be into others may just seem like an unusually good mood. A hypomanic state may, however, result in bad decisions that can harm your professional reputation, personal relationships, and career. Further, hypomania frequently progresses to full-blown mania, which an episode of depression can follow.
Bipolar Depression Symptoms
Traditionally, bipolar depression was considered the same as regular depression. However, recent studies have shown that there are several important differences between the two, particularly as far as recommended treatments are concerned.
Antidepressants are not effective for most people suffering from bipolar depression. As a matter of fact, antidepressants can exacerbate bipolar disorder by stimulating manic or hypomanic episodes, resulting in rapid mood swings and interfering with the effectiveness of other mood stabilizers.
Bipolar depression shares many symptoms with regular depression, but certain symptoms are more prevalent. It is more likely that bipolar depression will be accompanied by irritability, remorse, fluctuating moods, as well as a feeling of restlessness. Symptoms of bipolar depression include slow movement and speech, excessive sleep, and weight gain.
Furthermore, you are more likely to suffer from psychotic depression, a mental illness that causes you to lose touch with reality, as well as suffer major difficulties at work and in social situations.
The following symptoms characterize bipolar depression:
- A sense of hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness
- Excessive irritability
- An inability to enjoy the pleasure
- Having a feeling of fatigue or energy loss
- Feelings of sluggishness, both physically and mentally
- Weight changes or changes in appetite
- Problems sleeping
- Having trouble concentrating and remembering
- Lack of self-worth or guilt feelings
- Suicidal or death-related thoughts
Symptoms Of A Mixed Episode
When suffering from bipolar disorder, there can be both episodes of mania or hypomania and depression at the same time. In a mixed episode, there may be depression accompanied by agitation, restlessness, anxiety, sleep disturbances, distractibility, and a racing mind. A high energy level coupled with a low mood makes a person particularly prone to suicide.
What Is Rapid Cycling?
People with bipolar disorder can experience “rapid cycling,” which involves experiencing four or more episodes of mania or depression within a year. It is quite common for mood swings to occur suddenly, like a roller coaster varying from high to low repeatedly for an extended period of time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can become dangerously out of control when rapid cycling occurs, which usually occurs when your bipolar disorder symptoms are not effectively managed.
The Different Faces Of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I Disorder (Manic Episodes Or Mixed Episodes)
A classic case of manic-depressive illness, distinguished by the presence of at least one manic episode. It is common for Bipolar I Disorder to also be accompanied by a depressive episode, but that is not always the case.
Bipolar II Disorder (Depressive And Hypomanic Episodes)
There are no full-blown manic episodes associated with Bipolar II disorder. It is more likely that the illness will result in hypomania episodes and depressive episodes.
Cyclothymia (A Mild Form Of Hypomania And Depression)
There is a milder form of bipolar disorder called cyclothymia, which is characterized by cyclical mood swings. Symptoms are milder than those seen in a full-blown mania or depression.
Treatment For Bipolar Disorder
When you spot the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself or another person, seek treatment as soon as possible. A problem ignored won’t disappear; on the contrary, it will probably get worse. Having bipolar disorder can have serious consequences for your career, personal relationships, as well as your health. The good news is that bipolar disorder can be treated very effectively, which is why it is important to diagnose the illness as early as possible and begin treatment.
If you are hesitant to seek treatment because you enjoy the energy and euphoria of manic states, it is important to understand that these feelings come at a cost. It is common for hypomania and manic episodes to turn violent, causing harm to the individual and those around them.
The treatment of bipolar disorder requires a long-term commitment. In the case of bipolar disorder, which is a relapsing, chronic disorder, staying on top of treatment is crucial, even when you are feeling well. The majority of people with bipolar disorder require medication in order to avoid relapses and stay free of symptoms.
Treatment involves more than just medication. It is usually not possible to fully control the symptoms of bipolar disorder with just medication. In order to treat bipolar disorder adequately, it is necessary to combine medication, psychotherapy, a change of lifestyle, and support from family and friends.
Self-Help For Bipolar Disorder
It’s not always easy to live with bipolar disorder, but you don’t have to let it control your life. However, making smart choices is key to successfully managing bipolar disorder. Living a healthy lifestyle and following good habits can have a great impact on your mood and may even reduce your reliance on medications.
The Keys To Bipolar Disorder Self-Help
Be as informed as possible about bipolar disorder. Your recovery will be easier if you know more about it.
In addition to improving your mood, exercise may also help reduce your number of bipolar episodes. A cardio workout involving arm and leg movements, including running, jogging, swimming, dancing, climbing, and drumming, can positively affect your brain and nervous system.
Keep Stress In Check
Stay away from stress-inducing situations, balance your work and home lives, and practice relaxation techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga.
Having people you can turn to for assistance and encouragement is essential. Getting support from a trusted friend or joining a support group may help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others; it isn’t a sign of weakness. They will most likely be flattered if you are trusting them enough to open up to them, and you will be strengthening your relationship as a result.
Stay Closely Connected To Friends And Family
In order to calm your nervous system, there is nothing more soothing than being face-to-face with compassionate, understanding individuals who can simply listen to your story.
Make Healthy Choices
Stabilizing your mood can be achieved through a healthy diet and sleeping habits. It is particularly important to maintain a regular sleeping schedule.
Monitor Your Moods
Monitor your symptoms and watch for signs you are losing control of your moods in order to prevent problems from developing.
Bipolar Disorder And Suicide
Depressive episodes are often severe in bipolar disorder, with suicide being a major risk factor. The risk of suicide attempts is higher for people who have bipolar disorder than for people suffering from depression in general. Additionally, they tend to attempt suicide at a higher rate of fatality.
A person with bipolar disorder is far more likely to commit suicide if they have repeated depressive episodes, fluctuating moods, alcoholism or drug addiction, previous suicides in their family, or have begun developing the disorder at an early age.
There are several suicide warning signs, including:
- The discussion of suicide, self-harm, or death.
- Having a sense of helplessness or hopelessness.
- The feeling that you are worthless or that others consider you a burden.
- Taking risks recklessly, awaiting death at every turn.
- Making things orderly or saying goodbye.
- The search for suicide-related weapons or pills.
Causes And Triggers
Unlike other mental disorders, bipolar disorder does not have a single cause. People with an inherited vulnerability to bipolar disorder seem predisposed to the disorder. However, not all people with an inherited vulnerability develop the illness, suggesting that genes do not play the only role.
People with bipolar disorder exhibit physical changes in their brains. According to other studies, there are imbalances in neurotransmitters, thyroid function disturbances, irregular circadian rhythms, and high levels of cortisol, which is one of the stress hormones.
The development of bipolar disorder may also be influenced by external factors, such as the environment and psychological factors. Triggers are external factors that cause these events to occur. Depression and mania are both sensitive to triggers that can set off new episodes or worsen symptoms that already exist. In many cases, bipolar disorder episodes don’t have a clear cause or trigger.
Bipolar disorder can be triggered by stressful life events in people who are genetically vulnerable to it. These events are most likely to involve dramatic or sudden changes – positive or negative, for example, being married, attending college, grieving the loss of a loved one, being fired, or moving.
The abuse of substances does not cause bipolar disorder but increases the risk of an episode or worsens its course. It is possible for drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines to trigger mania, whereas tranquilizers or alcohol can cause depression.
There are certain medications, mostly antidepressants, capable of triggering mania. A number of other drugs can cause mania, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter cold medicines, drugs that suppress appetite, coffee, steroids, and thyroid drugs.
Manias and depressions frequently occur at certain times of the year. It is more common for people to experience manic episodes during the summer, whereas depressive episodes occur more frequently during the fall, winter, and spring.
Sleep deprivation, even just skipping a few hours, can lead to an episode of manic depression.
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