Bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression) is a mental disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts to mania or hypomania (less extreme than mania), you may feel euphoric, full of energy or unusually irritable.
There are three types of bipolar disorder. All three types involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, irritable, or energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very “down,” sad, indifferent or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.
Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a condition that affects your moods, which can swing from one extreme to another.
People with bipolar disorder have periods or episodes of:
• depression – feeling very low and lethargic
• mania – feeling very high and overactive (less severe mania is known as hypomania)
There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. They may include mania or hypomania and depression. Symptoms can cause unpredictable changes in mood and behavior, resulting in significant distress and difficulty in life.
Bipolar I disorder. You’ve had at least one manic episode that may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes. In some cases, mania may trigger a break from reality (psychosis).
Bipolar II disorder. You’ve had at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but you’ve never had a manic episode.
Cyclothymic disorder. You’ve had at least two years — or one year in children and teenagers — of many periods of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms (though less severe than major depression. People with cyclothymia have episodes of hypomania and depression. These symptoms are shorter and less severe than the mania and depression caused by bipolar I or bipolar II disorder. Most people with this condition only experience a month or two at a time where their moods are stable.
Other types. These include, for example, bipolar and related disorders induced by certain drugs or alcohol or due to a medical condition, such as Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis or stroke.
Symptoms of Bipolar
There are three main symptoms that can occur with bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania and depression. Bipolar disorder is characterised by extreme mood swings. These can range from extreme highs (mania) to extreme lows (depression). Episodes of mania and depression often last for several weeks or months. While experiencing mania, a person with bipolar disorder may feel an emotional high. They can feel excited, impulsive, euphoric and full of energy. During manic episodes, they may also engage in behavior such as:
• spending sprees
• unprotected sex
• drug use
During a period of depression, your symptoms may include:
• feeling sad, hopeless or irritable most of the time
• deep sadness
• lacking energy
• difficulty concentrating and remembering things
• loss of interest in everyday activities
• feelings of emptiness or worthlessness
• loss energy
• feelings of guilt and despair
• feeling pessimistic about everything
• lack of interest in activities they once enjoyed
The manic phase of bipolar disorder may include:
• feeling very happy, elated or overjoyed
• talking very quickly
• feeling full of energy
• feeling self-important
• feeling full of great new ideas and having important plans
• being easily distracted
• being easily irritated or agitated
Bipolar disorder in children
Diagnosing bipolar disorder in children is controversial. This is largely because children don’t always display the same bipolar disorder symptoms as adults. Their moods and behaviors may also not follow the standards doctors use to diagnose the disorder in adults.
Many bipolar disorder symptoms that occur in children also overlap with symptoms from a range of other disorders that can occur in children, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
• Acting very silly and feeling overly happy
• Talking fast and rapidly changing subjects
• Having trouble focusing or concentrating
• Doing risky things or experimenting with risky behaviors
Causes of Bipolar
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, although it’s believed a number of things can trigger an episode. Extreme stress, overwhelming problems and life-changing events are thought to contribute, as well as genetic and chemical factors.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several factors may be involved, such as:
Biological differences. People with bipolar disorder appear to have physical changes in their brains. The significance of these changes is still uncertain but may eventually help pinpoint causes.
Genetics. Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a first-degree relative, such as a sibling or parent, with the condition. Researchers are trying to find genes that may be involved in causing bipolar disorder.
Your brain. Your brain structure may impact your risk for the disease. Abnormalities in the structure or functions of your brain may increase your risk.
Environmental factors. It’s not just what’s in your body that can make you more likely to develop bipolar disorder. Outside factors may contribute, too. These factors can include:
• Extreme stress
• Traumatic experiences
• Physical illness
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder I involves either one or more manic episodes, or mixed (manic and depressive) episodes. It may also include a major depressive episode, but it may not. A diagnosis of bipolar II involves one or more major depressive episodes and at least one episode of hypo mania.
To be diagnosed with a manic episode, you must experience symptoms that last for at least one week or that cause you to be hospitalized. You must experience symptoms almost all day every day during this time. Major depressive episodes, on the other hand, must last for at least two weeks.
Recommended medications may include:
• mood stabilizers, such as lithium (Lithobid)
• antipsychotics, such as olanzapine (Zyprexa)
• antidepressant-antipsychotics, such as fluoxetine-olanzapine (Symbyax)
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy. You and a therapist talk about ways to manage your bipolar disorder. They will help you understand your thinking patterns. They can also help you come up with positive coping strategies.
Other treatment options may include:
• sleep medications
• Electroconvulsive therapy
If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, some strategies can help prevent minor symptoms from becoming full-blown episodes of mania or depression:
Pay attention to warning signs. Addressing symptoms early on can prevent episodes from getting worse. You may have identified a pattern to your bipolar episodes and what triggers them. Call your doctor if you feel you’re falling into an episode of depression or mania. Involve family members or friends in watching for warning signs.
Avoid drugs and alcohol. Using alcohol or recreational drugs can worsen your symptoms and make them more likely to come back.
Take your medications exactly as directed. You may be tempted to stop treatment but don’t. Stopping your medication or reducing your dose on your own may cause withdrawal effects or your symptoms may worsen or return.
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