A mental condition marked by extreme mood shifts is known as Bipolar Disorder. The disease includes episodes of extreme emotional breakdown affecting the overall health of the person. Also known as manic depression, the illness can affect personal relationships and professional prospects if not treated on time. So far there is no cure to the illness, but with timely treatment and management it can be controlled well. The disease, still considered as a taboo in India has affected around 2.5 per cent people worldwide.
Causes of Bipolar Disorder
The cause of this mental disorder can be due to genetics, brain functioning abnormalities or due to environmental factors like stress. In the patients with bipolar disorder, the neurons in the temporal lobe do not create necessary connections which results into extreme depression and mood imbalance. Hormonal imbalance in the body can also trigger this illness.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar 1: In this kind the person experiences minimum of one manic episode and the person must have major depressive episode in the past.
Bipolar 2: In this kind, the person must have experienced one or more episodes of depression and minimum of one hypomanic episode. The depression episode in this kind lasts for more than two weeks and is most commonly found in women. Hypomanic episode consists of features like- not sleeping enough and being competitive, full of energy and outgoing.
Cyclothymia: This includes episodes of low level depression with periods of hypomania. The symptoms are milder than Bipolar 1 and 2 illnesses.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The symptoms of bipolar disorder may vary from person to person and also depending on the extremity of the mood shifts. Mania or hypomania is a severe form of depression which means high mood. The common symptoms for this may include:
- Impaired judgment
- Loss of concentration and distraction
- Underperforming and not feeling like to go for work
- Overconfident or having a sense that they can do anything
- Addiction to drugs and alcohol
- Aggressiveness and agitation
- Feeling euphoric or exhilarated
- Racing thoughts and bizarre ideas
During a depressive mood shifts a person can experience symptoms like:
- Mood swings such as- anger, restlessness, agitation, anxiousness, etc
- Feeling empty and hopeless
- Behavioral changes like- loss of interest, using drugs, talking of suicide, etc
- Reduced concentration and delayed response
- Change in sleep patter. Experiencing insomnia or sleeping excessively.
- Feeling tired or experiencing weight loss
Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder
To diagnose bipolar disorder the doctor might ask you certain questions to check if you meet the identified criteria for mania and depression. If in case you have severe mood shifts or persistent elevated energy levels lasting up to 7 days. There is no specific test to determine or rule out this disease, depending on your symptoms the doctor may check your stress levels through certain blood tests and urine test.
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Basis the intensity of the mania the doctor may advise you treatment and therapies like:
Medication: At times when the stress levels are high among patients, medication is also given along with therapies for a quick and effective result. Medication helps lower the problem of anxiety and depression. The doctor may prescribe you mood-stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotic medications or anti-anxiety medications.
Psychotherapy: It is a speaking therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy to cope negative thoughts.
Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: To regulate daily habits like, eating, sleeping and exercising.
Lifestyle Changes: Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by cutting on alcohol consumption, quitting smoking and having a healthy food helps reduce depression and gives positive vibes. Exercising regularly helps produce a happy chemical in our body which makes our mind and body feel relaxed. Poor sleep can also trigger depression and frustration so it is recommended to have minimum of 6 hours sleep everyday for a health body and mind.
Alternative therapies: Check with your doctor about alternative therapies like natural supplement, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), acupuncture or meditation.
Emotional Support: Along with all the above mentioned treatment, emotional support from family and friends is equally important in managing bipolar disorder.
Prevention for Depression associated with Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disease is not preventable as the exact cause of it is not determined but there are some tips that can help you manage depression associated with bipolar disorder, like:
- Exercise regularly for at least one hour
- Get enough sleep. Minimum 6 hours of sleep is required for adults.
- Manage your stress levels. Do not bring the work pressure at home. Set a boundary and learn to say no.
- Talk about the things irritating you or hampering your peace of mind.