Bipolar disorder is also referred as manic-depressive illness. It is a condition that causes unusual shifts in mood, activity levels, energy and the ability to do daily tasks. The patient experiences intense emotional states called “mood episodes”.
There are three main types of mood episodes. An over excited mood episode is referred to as a manic episode while a sad mood episode referred as a depressive episode. When the two episodes happen together, that state is referred to a mixed state.
Bipolar disorder develops in adolescence or in early adulthood while in other people, later in life. It is a long-term illness that requires medical concern throughout the patient’s life. It can be treated and if not, it can be severe and destructive.
Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder.
This condition is not easy to diagnose in its early stages of development. Some people suffer for many years before a proper diagnosis and treatment. Persons with bipolar disorder may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode. They experience changes in behavior, energy and activity. When the condition is severe, it affects their daily functions such as work or school. A person may experience long-lasting periods of shifting moods.
Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder depend on the episode the person is experiencing.
For a manic episode, the person experiences long periods of feeling overly happy and excitement accompanied with agitation. They have behavioral changes such as having unrealistic reasoning, restlessness, distraction and impulsiveness.
For a depressive episode, the person experiences long periods of worrying and lack of interest in activities. The person changes behavior into restlessness, lack of concentration, tiredness and suicidal thoughts.
There are basic types of bipolar disorder.
There is bipolar I disorder. This is mainly manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days. The manic patient may require hospitalization. The patient has depressive episodes that could last a fortnight. The change in behavior is very much noticeable.
There is bipolar II disorder. This is where the person experiences depressive episodes shifting back and forth together with hypomanic episodes.
There is bipolar disorder not otherwise specified. (BP-NOS). This is considered when the patient has symptoms that cannot be defined as either bipolar I or II, but the symptoms are clearly noticeable as they are not normal behavior.
There is cyclothymia. Also called cyclotomic disorder, it is the mild form of bipolar disease. The patient experiences hypomanic episodes that swing with mild depression.
There are people who experience all the episodes in a year. This condition is referred to as rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. This usually occurs in persons with severe bipolar disorder or those who have their first bipolar episode. This condition usually affects women more than men where they experience episodes of major depression, hypomania or mixed symptoms.
Anxiety disorders such as panic disorders also go with persons with bipolar disorders. Bipolar disorder patients are at a higher risk of developing thyroid disease, migraines and headaches, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases among other diseases.
There are several causes of bipolar disorder.
Genetics. Research shows that it tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are 4 times likely to develop it. This however does not occur more often. The other cause is the brain development.
Management of bipolar disorder.
When dealing with bipolar disorder patients, be understanding and patient with them. The shift in mood episodes necessitates that you to have knowledge on how to deal and accommodate the individual. Offer them support and encouragement as they manage their condition.
Have them distracted regularly to avoid depressive or hypomanic episodes.
Let them have adequate sleep and remind them to take their medication.
Having a regular routine also helps them avoid both extremes of the episodes.
Having them on therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), family focused therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy helps them improve their relationships, their communication and affection. It also helps them acquire personal management ability and knowledge.