Bipolar disorder is a mental disorder marked by a dramatic change of moods in the affected individual. It is a chronic condition wherein the individual deals with unpredictable emotional upheavals ranging from intense happiness and energy to extreme sadness and depression.
These wavering thoughts and emotions can cripple the person mentally, often making him vulnerable to suicide.
Bipolar disorder can affect both men and women irrespective of their belonging. About 1 in every 100 individuals is diagnosed with bipolar disorder at some point throughout his life.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), defines bipolar disorder as a “clinical course of recurring mood episodes consisting of one or more major depressive episodes and at least one hypomanic (bipolar II disorder)” or manic episode (bipolar I disorder).
Bipolar disorder is a common disease that can occur at any age. It can develop mostly between the ages of 15 and 19 and around the age of 40 in rare cases.
People suffering from bipolar disorder go through a rollercoaster of moods that can be experienced as:
Bipolar disorder can have a significant impact on the life of the patient and his family as well. With all that a person experiences, bipolar can shatter professional lives, decimate personal relationships, and even interrupt education.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not yet known. Some of the possible causes of and risk factors for this mental disorder are:
The episodes of high and low moods in bipolar disorder do not follow a fixed pattern.
Symptoms associated with the low phase (depressive period) may include:
Symptoms experienced during the high phase (mania) may include:
It is imperative to seek professional help for anyone who observes the signs of bipolar disorder in him.
It is difficult to diagnose the condition as there are no laboratory tests or scans to determine its presence in the affected individual.
Bipolar disorder can inadvertently be diagnosed as other depressive disorders and mental disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), posttraumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. To rule out this error, your doctor will take a record of your past and present experiences to analyze your condition.
Friends, neighbors, and family members can give an insight into the affected individual’s behavior. A proper diagnosis is required for any mental disorder to sidestep from adverse effects that can threaten the life of the affected individual and his family.
Although bipolar disorder is not curable, it can be managed with a blend of therapy, social support, prescribed medications, and lifestyle changes.
Bipolar disorder is an illness that requires lifelong treatment to monitor the moods of the affected individual. Even though the patient feels fine, he should continue the treatment to prevent a relapse or an episode of the disease.
This treatment is aimed at empowering an affected individual in the presence of a professional on how to tackle his situation by coming up with strategies to cope with the symptoms, suggesting ways to fight a depressive episode, and hearing out the individual.
Talk therapies have been a successful approach in helping people with bipolar disorders to encourage mood stability, identify warning signs, and promote overall health.
This therapy is tried in extreme cases when an individual’s body fails to respond to medication and talk therapy. ECT makes use of low electrical currents to stimulate the brain. It is mostly performed to tend to severe episodes of depression and at times to maniac events as well.
People with bipolar disorder may require hospital admission in very critical situations. These include:
Seek emergency care in the cases mentioned above.
Living with bipolar disorder can be devastating, but it doesn’t have to reign over your life. Although you can’t handle the workings of your brain, you can take steps to make changes in your lifestyle and habits. This can help you fight and manage your moods to a great extent.
It is essential to understand the reasons behind your behavior and educate yourself on the condition to help yourself better. Going through all that bipolar disorder is about will arm you with the proper knowledge.
Go through trusted web resources and books that can shed some light on the disorder and help you process your situation.
This will give you an insight on how to manage your symptoms, the reason behind your behavior, and the path to living a normal life despite the illness.
Keep a watch on your symptoms. Once you have identified your triggers, it will be effortless for you to monitor your mood consciously.
This will help you overcome the changes in your mood much before they overtake you. It will be a slow and steady process, but you will start feeling better once you have caught a grip on your moods.
Stress can have adverse effects on your mind and body that can reflect in your life. Managing stress is of primordial importance when it comes to staying healthy.
Reaching out to your friends, family, and support groups can encourage you to share your apprehensions and get clarity on your condition. Your friends and family will be your support pillars throughout. Turning to help and confiding in your near and dear ones will cement your relationship all the more.
These people will be unquestionably caring and lend you a helping hand during your difficult experiences. This might take a lot of effort, but it will be worthwhile.
Taking care of your health is important while your body struggles internally with the chaos of the bipolar disorder. It is essential to incorporate healthy sleeping and eating habits and a regular exercise regimen to improve or maintain your physical health.
Individuals with a bipolar disorder should take just the requisite sleep of 8-9 hours, which restores the brain to function normally.
Sleep deprivation can trigger an episode. Sleeping for fewer hours has been identified with a worsening of related symptoms. This can often trigger mania in affected individuals. Sleeping for fewer hours can be indicative of an upcoming episode, whereas sleeping more than the required number of hours is related to depression.
Regular exercise can help your mood swings by releasing endorphins that help balance your mood. Physical exertion induces the release of cortisol hormones that are known to keep tabs on stress. Regular exercise can help alleviate bad moods, anxiety, and depression and can help you sleep better.
An exercise regimen of 30 minutes can help serve the purpose. Indulge in activities such as running, swimming, and aerobics to stabilize your mood.
Eating a healthy wholesome diet can help uplift your mood and clear your thoughts. Make sure that you take regular meals. Skipping meals can worsen your situation.
Restrict the consumption of food items, drugs, and beverages that can trigger an event. Smoking, sugar intake, soft drinks, and alcohol have been associated with adverse effects on the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder can lead you into making big decisions that you might regret later as a result of mood changes. Any impulsive decision or action might change the direction of your life.
Make sure not to overload yourself with work. Set your priorities and work accordingly.
It is in your best interest to take the advice of your close ones before making critical decisions pertaining to your work, job, and personal and professional relationships.
Following a set routine can help control your moods as experienced by many people suffering from bipolar disorder. If you are experiencing an emotional high, a routine will help you keep your calm. During your low times, the need to follow your routine will keep you going.
Your routine includes your daily activities, such as meal times, medicines, time for social gathering, hobbies, exercise, and meditation.
There is no set pattern for the mood swings in an individual, and it may vary from person to person. Some people may experience several events, whereas some may undergo a few episodic interventions during their life.
Bipolar disorder can be distinguished into four types based on the behavioral patterns of an affected individual:
With so much stigma attached to mental disorders, the need to offer constant family support is indispensable.
Bipolar disorder is a struggle per se. It can also affect the people living with an individual suffering from bipolar disorder.
Friends and family can play a major role in helping a bipolar patient through their efforts:
Consult immediate medical review if you observe any signs of a manic episode in your near or dear ones. Getting treatment at the right time will prevent the symptoms from aggravating and make a significant contribution to a person’s mental health.
Several people are oblivious to the illness residing in them and would be reluctant to consider a visit to the doctor. It is necessary to drive them to a consultant’s office to get a diagnosis for the same. They might be thankful to you for your efforts later on.
Any person living with bipolar disorder should seek immediate medical help in case of long periods of depression to evade the risk of self-harm and suicide.
Being diagnosed with bipolar disorder is not the end of the world. Family involvement can help you accept your situation, process the need for treatment, and recognize your mood changes.
Being down with this disorder can render an individual emotionally challenged. If you are a family or friend of an affected individual, try to understand his situation and be calm in your responses.
Besides regular medical treatment and psychotherapy, family support, regular checkups, medications, and consistent self-help efforts are your arsenal to fight the battle against bipolar disorder.
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