Bipolar Disorder, also called manic depression, is a mental illness characterized by alternate periods of depression (down mood) and mania and hypomania (up mood). These periodic mood swings are way more severe than normal mood swings. Mania is an elevated mood full of energy, racing thoughts, impulsive behavior, restlessness and less urge to sleep. A manic person will do more goal-oriented tasks and will appear hyper-energetic. This manic episode lasts for at least two weeks. Then comes depressive phase- characterized by feeling sad, lonely, worthless, not having the energy to fulfill daily life tasks and ultimately having suicidal thoughts. This depressive phase is way more intense than normal depression. The reason is that a person was previously manic so he feels more drained and ‘down’.
How Bipolar Disorder is developed?
The causes of developing bipolar disorder are not very well known. The age onset of bipolar disorder is late 20’s. However, it can hit any person of any age! Apparently, the people who have faced extreme stresses, upsets and uncertain incidents in life are more likely to develop bipolar disorder.
Structure of the brain and changes in brain chemicals can also trigger the symptoms of bipolar.
Is Bipolar Disorder Hereditary?
Yes, bipolar disorder is likely to be developed if a person’s parent (or parent), siblings or any relative is already bipolar. However, it is not necessary that they will always get the illness if their relatives have it. But the likelihood of developing the illness certainly increases.
Although bipolar disorder is not rare, yet, its symptoms are hard to recognize as they can just appear as depression also. Major symptoms are (including both phases i.e. mania and depression)
- Elevated and impulsive mood.
- Racing thoughts.
- Sleeplessness or over-sleep.
- No appetite or feeling more hungry than usual.
- Getting angry in minor situations.
- Unable to control the thoughts.
- Deep sadness and hopelessness.
- Feeling lonely and worthless.
- Suicidal thoughts.
- No motivation to achieve goals.
Bipolar Disorder in Women:
Although bipolar disorder can hit either gender equally, yet, the symptoms may differ in occurrence and intensity. In women:
- Bipolar disorder can occur in the early 30’s also.
- Mania phase is not very intense.
- Depressive phase is more intense and prolonged.
- Alternate phases can come time and again throughout the year. This occurrence of phases throughout the year is called rapid cycling.
Bipolar Disorder in Men:
- They have a more intense manic phase and feel way too impulsive and energetic.
- They act out during manic episodes.
- They can develop the illness early in the life.
Bipolar Disorder in Children:
The children who suffer from bipolar disorder are often confused with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). This is attributed to the common symptoms that both illnesses have. So, they should be noticed closely before heading on to diagnosis.
- Children with bipolar disorder also have an episode of hyperactivity followed by the depressive phase in which they don’t even feel like going to school, study or make friends.
- Children with bipolar disorder have severe mood swings as compared to normal mood swings.
Bipolar Disorder in Teens:
Apart from all the symptoms, teens show:
- Much more aggressive behavior.
- They can become angry frequently and cannot control their aggressive thoughts.
- Teen-agers are more likely to feel suicidal.
- They will love to do risky things and challenge themselves.
- They have trouble staying focused and distract easily.
One must experience the mania or hypomania for more than two weeks to be diagnosed as bipolar. A person may develop psychosis during this phase i.e. feels delusional or/and having hallucinations. A person can lose connection with the real world and can think that he/she is a ‘chosen’ person on a ‘special mission’. A person then needs to be hospitalized and treated properly.
Possible Treatment of Bipolar Disorder:
A person who is undergoing sudden onsets of manic and depressive phases must be monitored closely for diagnosis. Once the bipolar disorder is being diagnosed, then its treatment becomes way easier. Although, Bipolar disorder is not curable, yet, it can be treated and a person can lead a normal life following the doctor’s prescriptions and directions.
Psychiatrist after examining will prescribe certain anti-depressant and relaxants. Maybe he will also prescribe anti-psychotics depending upon the diagnosis. The patient must stick to the prescribed medications and always ask the doctor if any side-effects are observed.
Apart from medications, counseling and psychotherapy are also very vital for proper treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is very helpful to sort the racing thoughts and calm one down. CBT also helps in depressive phase by taking every thought one by one and analyzing. CBT can also be done by the patient alone (should know exactly what to do).
IPSRT (interpersonal social rhythm therapy) helps to sort the daily routine i.e. eating habits, sleep patterns, daily activities etc. As a result, a person feels much better and can perform daily life activities.
Natural Ways to Cope With Bipolar Disorder:
One should keep it in mind that natural solutions are not the substitute of medications. However, along with medications, following a healthy routine and diet can significantly decrease the symptoms of illness.
· Lifestyle Changes:
Have a daily routine and stick to it. Try to have a good night’s sleep by practicing breathing exercises before sleep, massaging and getting relaxed. Have proper 3 meals per day. Involve in the activities which you loved before. Try making conversations with your loved ones and share your thoughts with them. Always take a break and analyze yourself.
Most importantly, learn recognizing your symptoms and don’t overlook them. Once you are in a habit to know your symptoms, you can easily get back to normal.
· Good Diet:
It is not proved yet but it is observed that certain diet changes affect the mood swings. Add fish and fish oil in your diet. You can have fish oil capsules from any drug store. The fatty acids that fish contain can affect the chemicals in your brain. Many other vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants also affect the moods. It should be noted that before taking any supplements, you must consult your doctor.