Bipolar disorders are a group of brain disorders that cause extreme changes in mood, energy and the ability to function.
There are 3 types of bipolar disorder :
- Bipolar Disorder Type 1 – People with Bipolar disorder type 1 have had at least one manic episode and periods of major depression.
- Bipolar Disorder Type 2 – People with Bipolar disorder type 2 have never had full mania. They experience hypomania (a mild form of mania) and major depressive episodes.
- Cyclothymia – In cyclothymia, there are, for at least two years, hypomania and mild depression, which are never severe enough to be classified as a full maniac and depressive disorder.
The exact cause of bipolar is not known, but it may be a combination of biochemical, genetic and psychological factors.
Symptoms – Depending on the clinical characteristics. Bipolar disorder is sub classified as Bipolar disorder – depression, Bipolar disorder – mania & Bipolar disorder – mixed. The essential characteristics is one or more manic (or hypomanic) episodes.
Symptoms of Manic Episode include :
- Increased energy, activity and restlessness.
- Excessively high, euphoric mood.
- Extreme irritability
- Spending sprees.
- Little sleep needed
- Racing thoughts, rapid speech
- Inflated self esteem
- Bing eating, drinking and/or drug use
Symptoms of Depressive Episode include :
- Persistent depressed mood, most of the day, almost every day
- Decreased interest and pleasure in almost all activities
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (too little or too much sleep)
- Tiredness, listlessness, restlessness or irritability.
- Feelings of worthlessness, self reproach
- Concentration impairment
- Recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal ideas
Treatment – Bipolar disorder requires long term treatment, since it is a chronic, relapsing illness, The most effective treatment plan includes a combination of medication, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes and social support. Psychotherapy used to treat Bipolar disorder includes Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Family Focused Therapy. Psychotherapy may help you gain self insight, change negative thoughts and feelings, and learn new behaviours and coping strategies. Talking about your emotions with a trained professional can help reduce symptoms.
Diagnosis of this disorder can be tricky and medication should be monitored closely by a psychiatrist. Medication is used to stabilise the extreme mood swings of mania and depression.