Bipolar Disorder: More Than Just Mood Swings

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Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings varying from manic highs to depressive lows. Millions of people worldwide suffer from this condition, impacting not only their mental well-being but also their daily lives, relationships, and overall quality of life. 

In this blog, we will look into the complexities of bipolar disorder, understanding its multiple aspects and shedding light on how it affects the daily lives of those living with this condition. Many clinical research organizations are actively looking for volunteers to participate in bipolar disorder clinical trials investigating potential new treatment options. If you or someone you know lies in the late adolescence (teen years) or early adulthood category and suffers from this manic condition, consider participating in bipolar disorder clinical trials.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition that causes episodes of mania or hypomania followed by periods of depression. Mania is characterized by increased energy, impulsivity, euphoria, and sometimes irritability. However, depression is characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, despair, and a loss of interest or pleasure in activities.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are several types of bipolar disorder, including:  

  • Bipolar I Disorder: Symptoms include at least one manic episode that comes before or is followed by a hypomanic or depressive episode. Mania may trigger a psychotic episode in which the person becomes detached from reality. 
  • Bipolar II Disorder: Symptoms include at least one severe depressive episode and one hypomanic episode. People with bipolar II disorder have never experienced a manic episode.  
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: This is characterized by recurrent episodes of hypomania and depression. Depressive symptoms are less severe than serious depression. 

Although bipolar disorder can occur at any age, it is most diagnosed during adolescence or early adulthood. Symptoms may vary from person to person and may change over time. 

Also Read: How a Person with Bipolar Disorder Thinks: Fact vs. Fiction

Difference between Mania and Hypomania

Mania and hypomania are 2 separate kinds of episodes; however, they have many similar characteristics. Mania is more severe than hypomania, resulting in more noticeable challenges at work, school, social activities, and relationships with others. Mania may trigger a dissociation from reality (psychosis), requiring hospitalization.

Both manic and hypomanic episodes have three or more of these symptoms: 

  • Abnormally energetic, jumpy, or wired 
  • Increased activity, energy, or agitation 
  • Euphoria (an exaggerated feeling of well-being and self-confidence) 
  • Decreased sleep and unusual talkativeness 
  • Racing thoughts 
  • Distractibility 
  • Poor decision-making—for example, going on shopping sprees, taking risks, or making impossible commitments 

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

The specific cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but various factors may be involved, including: 

  • Biological Differences: People with bipolar disorder exhibit physical changes in their brains. The importance of these changes is still unknown, although they may eventually help determine causes. 
  • Genetics: Bipolar disorder is more likely to appear in people with a first-degree relative, such as a sibling or parent, with the same condition. Researchers are searching for genes that may contribute to bipolar disorder. 

Impact on Physical Health

The impact of bipolar disorder extends beyond mental health, affecting physical well-being as well. Irregular sleep patterns are common during manic and depressive periods, contributing to sleep disturbances and fatigue. Disrupted sleep may exacerbate mood swings and impair the ability to deal with daily stressors. 

Also, people with bipolar disorder are at increased risk of developing comorbidities like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity. The interplay between mental and physical health emphasizes the significance of a comprehensive approach to managing bipolar disorder. 

How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

To identify the bipolar disorder, evaluation might involve the following: 

  • Physical examination: The doctor may perform a physical exam and lab testing to rule out any medical issues causing the symptoms. 
  • Psychiatric evaluation: The doctor may recommend the individual to a psychiatrist who will talk their thoughts, feelings, and behavioral patterns. They may also ask the patient to complete a psychological self-assessment or questionnaire. With the patient’s agreement, family members or close friends may be requested to explain the symptoms. 
  • Mood charts: The psychiatrist may request to make a daily record of moods, sleep habits, or other aspects that will aid in diagnosis and therapy. 
  • Criteria for bipolar Ddsorder: The psychiatrist may compare the symptoms to the criteria for bipolar and associated disorders outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 

How is Bipolar Disorder Managed?

While bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, effective treatment options can help people manage symptoms and live a satisfying life. Usually, treatment includes medication, psychotherapy, and lifestyle changes. 

  • Medication:

Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants are often prescribed to treat bipolar disorder symptoms. Finding the right medication and dosage can be a trial-and-error process, as individual responses vary. Regular monitoring and alterations are required to optimize the treatment approach.

Individuals need to adhere to their medication routine consistently. Abruptly discontinuing medication can lead to mood changes and increase the possibility of recurrence. Open communication with healthcare practitioners is essential for tackling any concerns or side effects

  • Psychotherapy:

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is an essential component of bipolar disorder treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people identify and modify damaging thought patterns and behaviors. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) focuses on developing daily routines to help reduce mood swings.

Individuals can express their emotions and discover coping strategies in a secure environment through supportive therapy. Family therapy can also help family members understand and support each other

  • Lifestyle Modifications:

Lifestyle changes may enhance medical treatments. Establishing a consistent sleep routine is essential for mood stabilization, as inconsistent sleep patterns can lead to episodes. Regular exercise has been found to improve mood and well-being.

Avoiding alcohol and addictive substances is of the utmost importance since they can impair medication efficacy and worsen mood instability. Maintaining a balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, and vegetables can improve general health. 

Summary

Bipolar disorder is a complex and challenging condition that has significant effects on everyday life. The interplay of manic and depressive episodes, combined with the associated stigma, creates a unique set of barriers for people living with this condition. Individuals with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, can have satisfying and meaningful lives with a comprehensive treatment plan, loved ones’ support, and the development of good coping techniques. In addition, you may also consider participation in mental health clinical trials near you in Illinois! 

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