Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder or manic depression is a condition that shows extreme shifts in mood and fluctuations in energy and activity levels which can make daily living difficult.

It is a serious mental illness which, if left untreated, may destroy relationships, weaken career prospects, and seriously influence academic performance. At times, it can lead to suicide.

Diagnosis generally occurs between the ages of 15 and 25 years, but it may occur at any age and affects males and females evenly.

People having bipolar disorder may have phases in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad, hopeless, and lethargic. In between those periods, they generally feel normal. You can think of the highs and the lows as two "poles" of mood, that is why it's called "bipolar" disorder.

The term "manic" exposes the times when someone with bipolar disorder feel too excited and confident. These feelings may also involve irritability and impulsive or irresponsible decision-making. Around half of people during mania can also have delusions (considering things that aren't true and that they can't be talked out of) or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there).

Hypomania means milder symptoms of mania, in which people do not have delusions or hallucinations, and their high symptoms do not interfere with their everyday life.

The terms "depressive" describes the periods when the individual feels very sad or depressed. The symptoms are the same as those described in major depressive disorder or "clinical depression," a problem in which someone never has manic or hypomanic occurrence.

Often people with bipolar disorder spend more time with depressive symptoms than manic or hypomanic symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

In bipolar disorder patients, the remarkable episodes of high and low moods do not follow a set pattern. Somebody may feel the same mood state (manic or depressed) numerous times before switching to the opposite mood. These episodes may take place over a period of weeks, months, and sometimes even years.

Severity varies from person to person and can also change over time, becoming more or less severe.

    Symptoms of mania ("the highs"):

  • Extreme happiness, hopefulness, and excitement
  • Rapid changes from being joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile
  • Impatience
  • Fast speech and poor concentration
  • Increased energy and less require for sleep
  • Abnormally high sex drive
  • Showing poor judgment
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Becoming more spontaneous

In depressive periods ("the lows"), a person with bipolar disorder may have:

  • Lack of energy
  • Sadness
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Out of control crying
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite changes which make them lose or gain weight
  • Thoughts and attempts of suicide

Who Gets Bipolar Disorder?

When a person develops bipolar disorder, it typically begins when they're in late adolescence or young adulthood. Infrequently, it can occur earlier in childhood. Bipolar disorder may run in families.

Men and women are evenly prone to get it. Women are somewhat more expected than men to go through "rapid cycling," which is having four or more distinct mood episodes within a year. Women also are likely to spend more time depressed than men with bipolar disorder.

What are the Causes of Bipolar Disorder?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not clear, but several factors may be involved, like:

  • Biological differences: People with bipolar disorder seem to have physical changes in their brains. The importance of these changes is still uncertain but may ultimately help pinpoint causes.
  • Genetics: Bipolar disorder is very common in people who have a first-degree relative, like a sibling or parent, with the problem.

How to Diagnose Bipolar Disorder?

Diagnosis may include

  • Physical exam: Your doctor may perform a physical exam and lab tests to see any medical problems that could be causing your symptoms.
  • Psychiatric assessment: A psychiatrist will talk to you about your thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns. You might also fill out a psychological self-assessment or questionnaire. Your family members or close friends may be asked to give information about your symptoms.
  • Criteria for bipolar disorder: Your psychiatrist may possibly compare your symptoms with the criteria for bipolar and related disorders.

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a lifetime condition. Treatment is directed at controlling symptoms. According to your requirements, treatment may include:


Numerous medications are used to treat bipolar disorder. The types and doses of medications prescribed depend on your particular symptoms.

Medications may include:

  • Mood stabilizers to control manic or hypomanic episodes
  • Antipsychotics if symptoms of depression or mania persist
  • Antidepressants to help manage depression
  • Antidepressant-antipsychotic acts as a depression treatment and a mood stabilizer.
  • Anti anxiety medications may help with anxiety and improve sleep, but are usually used on a short-term basis.


Psychotherapy is a very important part of bipolar disorder treatment and can be offered in individual, family or group settings. Several types of therapy may be useful. These include:

  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT)
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
  • Psychoeducation
  • Family-focused therapy

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