Cracking the Bipolar Disorder Code

Bipolar Disorder

For a few years in his early thirties, it was my Uncle’s job to drink.

Yes, he had other jobs, but those were just ways of making money. Money that he would spend paying for the bottles.

He was offered great job opportunities, which came and went. He even lost his family, which left him alone and confused. He was going through a lot, and he battled the demons back down by getting drunk. He no longer had any interests, hobbies or ambitions: he was depressed. Being super drunk, sad, and alone was the only job he had. And do you know what? He acted as if he was enjoying his life. Because being lost in alcoholism was the comfort, he loved. Afterward, he decided to seek professional help, where he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder also known as the manic-depressive disorder is a brain disorder that causes an unusual change in mood, activity levels, and energy.

 People suffering from depression had times when they are so excited and energized while other times they feel unfortunate and hopeless. 

Others might experience some emotional symptoms between the mood swings; some will not feel anything at all. The good thing is that one can manage bipolar disorder by following the right treatment plan. In most cases, the right treatment plan involves medication and psychological counseling.

Common Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder are varied. There are two distinct types of mood episode, which include, mania and hypomania. 

The difference between mania and hypomania is that the mania signs are quite severe and causes more noticeable problems when compared to hypomania. Most patients at the mania episode tend to break from reality and end up being hospitalized because they are near the major depressive episode.

Signs of Mania

The primary key symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder include;

  • The feeling of being overly happy for long periods of time.
  • Unusual talkativeness is meaning that one talks very fast with racing thoughts.
  • Europhia- having an exaggerated sense of well-being as well as being overconfident in your abilities.
  • Decreased need for sleep.
  • Feeling extremely restless.
  • Engaging in risky behavior, for example, gambling, drinking, and impulsive sex or even overspending.

Signs of Major Depression Episode

  • Withdrawing from friends and relatives.
  • Poor memory and low concentration levels.
  • A significant change in appetite.
  • Lack of energy, which leads to feeling fatigued.
  • Feeling sad and hopeless.
  • Losing interest in hobbies and other activities one enjoyed earlier.
  • Thinking about or attempting suicide.

Causes of bipolar disorder

Although researchers have not fully discovered the exact cause of bipolar disorder, they have identified different factors that trigger the development of this disorder. There is no definite cause of bipolar. 

This disorder is highly heritable, that means your chances of acquiring the disorder is high in case one of your family members is suffering from the condition. Experts say that not everyone who is genetically predisposed develops bipolar disorder. Some of the leading causes of bipolar disorder include;

  • Gender

Bipolar disorder affects both men and women equally, but women are at a higher risk. Women are more likely to experience mixed moods episodes and depression than men are. Research shows that women are three times more likely to have a rapid change in the mood episodes than men.

  • High levels of stress

High levels of stress can also trigger bipolar disorder. People who have undergone traumatic experiences may develop this disorder later in life. Experiences like physical and sexual abuse, the death of a parent, neglect, or other events can be a cause of bipolar disorder. Manic or depressive episodes can also be brought about by events like loss of a job or a loved one, moving to a new place, lack of sleep, and many more. You need to take regular breaks and visit some wellness centers to reduce the stress levels.

  • Drug abuse

People who abuse alcohol and other drugs are at risk for developing bipolar disorder. These harmful substances do not cause bipolar, but they act as triggers. Use of drugs and alcohol can worsen your mood episodes or hasten the symptoms. Before a doctor can give you a diagnosis on this disorder, he or she will ask you to detox from any drug substance. This is because medication sometimes can trigger the start of a manic or depressive episode.

  • Genetics

Bipolar disorder is linked to genetics. However, no single gene is responsible for this disorder. Scientist says that some environmental and genetic factors act as triggers. If a member of your family, that is, a parent or sibling has bipolar; then you might be at a higher risk.

Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder requires a long-term treatment plan, which involves medication, psychological counseling, and lifestyle approaches. 

If a person suffering from mania is not treated, he or she can experience mood episodes for between three to six months. Those suffering from major depression tend to last longer between six to twelve months. 

Patients can receive treatment without having to stay in the hospital unless their symptoms are severe and need close medical attention. The primary treatment options include;

  • Medication

Doctors prescribe some medications to persons who have bipolar disorder. Some of these medications include;

  • Antipsychotics- drugs given to a patient whose symptoms of depression or mania persist even after treatment.
  • Mood stabilizers- these medications are used to control the manic or hypomanic episodes. Examples include; lithium, and valproic acid.
  • Anti-anxiety medications- used on a short-term basis to help with anxiety and improve your sleep.
  • Antidepressant- the antidepressant can sometimes trigger a manic episode, and that is why they are prescribed along with mood stabilizers. They help manage depression.
  • Antidepressant-antipsychotic- the medication combines the antidepressant and antipsychotic. It helps to stabilize one’s mood and still treat depression.
  • Psychotherapy

Also known as counseling or talk therapy. Psychotherapy can help people with bipolar disorder learn how to manage and practice effective strategies for coping with this disorder. People also learn how to manage their symptoms as well as avoid negative thinking pattern. The different types of psychotherapy include; family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychoeducation.

  • Psycho-Education

This treatment option involves learning bipolar disorder symptoms, and how they differ depending on age, behavior, and different situations. You will also be taught how to recognize warning signs, which will help you prevent an episode from recurring.

  • Support

It involves day treatment programs where individuals and groups are given medical support, peer support and many more. These programs are led by teachers, counselors or any other encouraging support to help people with bipolar disorder. Different states have also introduced suicide prevention centers where you can call for help or walk into the emergency room to seek professional help.

If you are suspecting to be suffering from bipolar disorder, seek medical help right away. The first step to treat bipolar is receiving a proper diagnosis. It is also important to note that your mood episode font disappear forever, so do not ignore getting help just because you feel better. When on stable moods try to seek professional help from counselors, seek the right treatment and join support groups to manage future manic or depressive episodes. Bipolar disorder is treatable, therefore, take steps today to find the best treatment and support for your bipolar.

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