Unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration indicate that they are suffering from mood disorders like bipolar disorder. However, this is not always the case. Other culprits behind the symptoms are an abnormal hormone shift, lack of sleep, and other factors. A surge in female sex hormones, mainly estrogen, significantly influences mood swings, such as that expected during premenopause and perimenopause. On the other hand, changes in cortisol levels in response to stress may also influence mood, sleep patterns, and appetite. Therefore, seeking medical advice to determine the diagnosis and treatment is essential.
Revive Research Institute actively seeks volunteers for participation in bipolar disorder clinical trials. If you or someone you know lies in the late adolescence (teen years) or early adulthood category and suffers from a manic illness, consider participating in bipolar disorder clinical trials. (BPD). Delve into the blog to gain insight into bipolar disorder, commonly associated signs and symptoms, and management approach.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings between manic or hypomanic episodes (elevated mood, increased energy) and depressive episodes (low mood, loss of interest or pleasure) that can significantly impact a person’s life.
Hypomania is an unusual excitable state of the body involving abnormally elevated, extreme changes in mood or emotions, energy level, or activity level. It may not always be a sign of bipolar disorder, but other mental disturbances.
The symptoms commonly associated are either indicative of depressive episodes or mania:
- Heightened levels of euphoria
- Feeling jumpy or revved up
- Racing thoughts
- Wanting to do things all at once without feeling tired
- Feeling empowered and confident
- Excessive hunger pangs and increased appetite
- Sad and anxious feeling
- Difficulty falling asleep or oversleeping
- Attention deficit
- Difficulty remembering things
- Talking slowly
- Lack of interest
What causes Bipolar Disorder?
A combination of environmental, social, and physical factors contribute to bipolar disorder. Below are the events from each category to help you gain insight.
Increased emotionally distressing events during childhood, such as negligence, sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, or traumatic events, such as losing some close relationship or a parent or carer.
Stressful life events:
An increase in stress hormones, such as cortisol levels, can happen in response to any such event as relationship breakdown, money worries, poverty, physical abuse, bullying, or harassment, including experiencing racism, feeling lonely or isolated, new working space, uncertainty, working under pressure, studying or looking for work, and important life events, such as weddings or holidays.
Disruption in brain chemistry:
Disruption in the level of chemical messengers of the brain known as neurotransmitters can predispose to mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
Genetics plays a central role in mood disorders.
Medication, drugs, and alcohol:
Certain medications, such as those used to treat physical conditions and psychiatric disorders– including some antidepressants can cause hypomania or mania as a withdrawal symptom or present while taking it. Other medications may cause depression as a possible side effect.
Alcohol and drug abuse can cause you to experience symptoms similar to mania, hypomania, or depression. Therefore, getting a consultation to treat the cause before the condition worsens is important.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?
Your doctor may ask you several questions about the symptoms and family history, followed by performing a few brain scans to diagnose the condition and treat it accordingly. Some of the frequently asked questions are:
- Frequency of symptoms you experience
- What type of mood episodes do you experience
- How long do mood episodes last for
- How many times have you had mood episodes
- How often do mood episodes occur
- How have the symptoms affected your life
- Information about family history
They might ask you to:
- Keep track of your moods to help you both identify patterns and triggers.
- Check on your physical health for other conditions like thyroid problems, which can cause mania-like symptoms.
In the active phase of diagnosing bipolar disorder, mental health professionals conduct a thorough assessment to differentiate it from various other mental health conditions. Some conditions that they consider in the differential diagnosis for bipolar disorder include:
- Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Management Approach To Manage Depressive vs. Maniac Episodes
The treatment approach for bipolar disorder typically varies depending on the type of episode being experienced:
During depressive episodes:
- The doctor is likely to prescribe medication, which may involve introducing new medication or adjusting the current bipolar treatment regime.
- Your doctor may recommend structured psychological therapy specifically designed for treating depression, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
During manic or hypomanic episodes:
- Talking therapies are typically not offered while you are currently experiencing a manic or hypomanic episode.
The treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Mood stabilizers like lithium, antipsychotics, and antidepressants are commonly used. Psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT), can help individuals manage their symptoms and develop coping strategies. Education about the condition and having a support system, including family and friends, can be crucial for individuals with bipolar disorder.
Lifestyle factors such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, managing stress, and avoiding substance abuse play a significant role in managing bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a complex condition that requires ongoing management with proper treatment and support. Many individuals with bipolar disorder can lead fulfilling lives and achieve stability in their moods and daily functioning with the right diagnosis and treatment. There is a stigma associated with bipolar disorder, which can hinder individuals from seeking help. Thus, raising awareness and reducing stigma is essential to promote early diagnosis and effective treatment. Moreover, to prevent mood episodes, regular follow-up with healthcare providers is crucial. In addition, you may also consider participation in bipolar disorder clinical trials near you!