We all have our bad days and our share of mood swings. However, there are some people who have such extreme shifts in moods that it actually affects their quality of life. Such is the case with bipolar disorder.
Simply put, bipolar disorder is a medical condition which affects the mind, wherein the person affected experiences bouts of severe depression and extreme elation. The states of depression are called depressive episodes while the states of elation are called manic episodes. These two – depression and mania – are the two “poles” of bipolar disorder. There is a middle ground between the two poles, called hypomania. This is a state much like mania but with lesser intensity. Bipolar disorder is also more commonly known as manic-depressive disorder.
Bipolar disorder may focus on the mind but more than affecting how a person thinks, it also affects his feelings, perceptions, and behavior. A person with bipolar disorder may not be able to function normally during a bout of depression. A case in point would be someone who would wake up and feel totally useless and not be able to go through the day’s normal activities. In severe cases, people around a person with bipolar disorder are also indirectly affected because of the patient’s behavior.
There are four major types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I Disorder – involves at least one manic episode and often more than one major depressive episode. A major depressive episode may last anywhere from weeks or months. In between episodes, a person may function normally.
- Bipolar II Disorder – involves at least one major depressive episode but with at least one hypomanic episode. As with the first type, a person may function normally between episodes.
- Cyclothymic Disorder – a mild form of bipolar disorder. It also involves bouts of depression and hypomania but in shorter periods of time, less severe symptoms, and without a regular pattern.
Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified – different people have different symptoms and manifestations of the disorder. Sometimes, they do not fall into the other three categories and thus are classified under this type.
There is a variety of treatment options for persons diagnosed with bipolar disorder. They fall into three broad groups – medical, talk therapy, and self-care. Each type of treatment may be used alone or combined with each other.
There are different kinds of medication used to treat bipolar disorder. The four main types are:
- Mood stabilizers – used to delay or relieve mood shifts (both depression and mania)
- Antidepressants – used to treat people during depressive episodes. They are usually used in conjunction with mood stabilizers so as to avoid a sudden shift into manic episodes.
- Antipsychotics – used to treat mania and psychosis which may result from these episodes. They may also be used in conjunction with other medication.
- Electroconvulsive therapy – used to treat both severe mania and depression. It is not technically a medication and can be optimal for people who do not respond well to the other types of medical treatment.
Talk therapy is also called psychotherapy. It involves sessions with a professional, talking about how to deal with the situation as well as sorting out one’s thoughts and relationships with others. Self-care is basically learning all you can about your disorder and learning how to deal with the situation.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
It is a medical condition wherein a person experiences mood shifts ranging from extreme depression and extreme elation. It is also known as manic-depressive disorder.
Is Bipolar Disorder hereditary?
Studies show some evidence that bipolar disorder tend to run in the family.
What causes bipolar disorder?
Much like other psychological disorders, there is no clear cut answer to this question. Experts say that bipolar disorder may be a result of varying factors interacting with each other.
What is the best treatment for bipolar disorder?
There are different ways of treating bipolar disorder and they may be used alone or in conjunction with each other. There is no single cure that can be applied to everybody. The best way is to consult with your doctor to find out the most suitable treatment for you.
Bipolar Disorder – a severe mental illness characterized by repeated episodes of mania and depression.
Depression – an extreme mood of sadness with physical symptoms such as loss of appetite and sleep.
Mania – an excited mood characterized by mental and physical hyperactivity, disorganization of thoughts and behavior.
Hypomania – a mild degree of mania; often a precursor to a full manic episode.
Psychotherapy - Also known as "talk therapy" or counseling. It requires regular conversations with a trained mental health professional and can be combined with medication to treat various types of mental illness, such as bipolar disorder.