Bipolar disorder (manic depression) falls under the category of a mood disorder. It is characterised by persistent changes in mood, with periods of either elevated moods (mania) or extremely low moods (depression). A person often shifts between high moods and low moods (mood swings) and is often found to be well between the episodes of their mood swings.
Bipolar disorder usually develops in adolescent years or early adulthood. Stress is a common trigger for early episodes of bipolar disorder, however, after some repetitions, the episodes of mania or depression can develop without any identifiable trigger.
Psychotherapist Dr Vihan Sanyal explains “Bipolar Disorder is a serious mental illness which requires appropriate diagnosis and treatment. People diagnosed with this disorder and their loved ones need to be well informed about the illness. They need to understand the nuances of the disorder, the treatment options available to them and how to manage the symptoms of the disorder.”
Types Of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar 1 Disorder: People who suffer from bipolar one usually regularly experience mania as well as extended periods of hypo-mania, along with psychosis (hallucinations and delusions). At times a person with Bipolar 1 may require hospitalisation for their condition.
Bipolar 2 Disorder: People with Bipolar 2 experience moods swings, including symptoms of hypomania, which usually last from a few hours to a few days. They, however, don’t experience psychotic episodes.
Mixed States: Here the person experiences symptoms of mania and depression at the same time. As the name suggests, it’s a mixed emotional state. A person may feel like laughing while crying and feel sad yet feel the urge for high levels of activity.
Winston Churchill, George (Lord) Byron, Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chris Brown, Mel Gibson, Marilyn Monroe, Michael Slater, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato have reportedly had bipolar disorder.
Hypomania, Mania and Depression: What's The Difference?
Hypomania: is a state of elevated mood during which activity and thought to speed up. The person has less need to sleep, their mood is high, and they experience an overwhelming sense of wellbeing.
They often show irritation and intolerance towards other people. Ideas may flow quickly, and thought processes are relatively intact. The person feels well and in control, but may not understand the consequences of their behaviour and may react angrily if confronted. Judgment is affected, and the person may become unable to make complex decisions.
Mania: In a manic state, thinking can become disjointed or distorted, and the person may not make sense to other people. For example, the person may be talking so fast that others cannot understand them. Hallucinations and delusions can occur, which will appear very real to the person experiencing them. During a manic episode, the person may be at risk of accidental injury, as they may not be capable of looking after themselves or making decisions in their own best interest. For example, a person may spend too much money without being able to recognise the consequences and find themselves in serious debt.
Depression: Is a condition marked by extreme low mood and lack of interest and pleasure. Thoughts become slower. Thinking becomes difficult, and it takes time to make decisions. The person may be incapable of or uninterested in performing everyday tasks and even getting out of bed in the morning.
Causes of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder can occur from a Genetic Disposition along with stressful life situations. It can also be a result of:
- Physical Illnesses
- An Infection Affecting The Brain.
- Use Of Recreational Drugs
- Excessive Use Of Alcohol
- Certain Medications
Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
- Increased energy levels and restlessness
- Inflated self-esteem
- Racing thoughts and rapid speech
- Feeling of euphoria and wellbeing
- Extreme irritability, distractibility and tantrums
- Decreased sleep requirement
- Poor judgment and inability to weigh up consequences
- An increased sexual drive of being sexually exploited
- Living in denial that they are OK and there is nothing abnormal in their behaviour
- Overspending and taking risks
- Feelings of sadness or emptiness
- Increased appetite or a complete lack of appetite.
Dr.Sanyal says “People need to realise that they are not behaving the way they are intentionally. Especially family members need to be empathetic towards them and be sensitive towards their needs. If someone had a physical ailment and were in pain, would we ignore them or tell them to behave in a specific manner? No, we won’t. It is the same with any form of mental illness. We often discount the severity of the illness or lose patience with a loved one battling Bipolar Disorder because we don’t fully understand the nature of the illness. Patience, care and support are required when dealing with Bipolar.”
Precautions, Treatment and Cure
One can learn to increase their resilience level during stressful situations and equip themselves with tools to bounce back from emotionally draining events. This can prevent many of the symptoms of mental illness. There is currently no cure available for Bipolar Mood Disorder. There are, however, the following treatment options available from a clinical perspective:
Medication: There are some medications available to treat all types of Bipolar Disorder.
Psychotherapy: There are effective techniques to help people manage the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Counselling, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, NLP are all useful in treating Bipolar.
Dr Sanyal explains “Medication along with therapy is required for the treatment and management of Bipolar Disorder. In most cases, a person living with this illness is required to be on medication for life. I have seen people manage their condition a lot better after being treated with psychotherapy along with medication. Once a person starts to experience the benefits of therapy, then they are often able to function wonderfully with the least amount of medication in their system. Anything is possible with patience and perseverance.”