English 4 MIN READ 137 VIEWS May 24, 2024

Understanding Bipolar Disorder: Beyond Manic and Depressive States

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects a lot of people worldwide. This disorder causes major mood swings, energy changes, and behavioural changes in a person. There can be rapid shifts in the movement between mania, depression, and even happiness. This disorder also majorly affects a person’s daily life, as mania/hypomania and depression episodes can last for days, weeks, and sometimes even months.

Formerly, this disorder was also labelled as manic depression and bipolar disease. This mental health disorder is manageable and treatable, as long as you seek the help and medication required. It is also very important for us to be educated about such mental health issues. This article goes into detail about bipolar disorder symptoms, causes, types, and treatments to help you gain a better perspective on the issue.

Types of Bipolar Disorder and Episodes

There are varying forms of this disorder, which can be classified into three different types, namely bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia). To learn about the types of this disorder, you should know more about the kinds of episodes that a person can suffer from. They can be classified into two different types: manic and depressive.

  • Manic Episodes

A manic (at least a week or more) or, oftentimes, a hypomanic (4 days or less duration) episode refers to experiencing emotions at an all-time high. This may refer to you being extremely happy, impulsive, excited, etc. In some more extreme cases, one might also see hallucinations, delusions, and some other forms of psychosis. Manic episodes are also a common classical symptom of bipolar I disorder. Often during these kinds of episodes, one of the more extreme and complex bipolar disorder symptoms one might face is that the patient feels compelled to constantly do things that put them and others in harm’s way.

  • Depressive Episodes

Experiencing depressive episodes is another part of the bipolar disorder diagnosis. One can feel emotions such as sadness, lack of interest, hopelessness, fatigue, apathy, and/or suicidal thoughts. Both manic and depressive episodes share a common symptom: in certain extreme cases, hallucinations and delusions can happen in patients. One can also feel changes in the appetite due to these kinds of episodes. They usually last about 2 weeks, but in more extreme cases, manic depression episodes can go up to 3 weeks as well.

The previously mentioned three different types of bipolar disorder have been detailed below for your reference:

  1. Bipolar I disorder: In this type of bipolar disorder, people can experience both manic and depressive episodes, and for it to be considered bipolar I, these episodes have to last at least 7 days or more at a time. 
  2. Bipolar II disorder: This form of the disorder refers to when a person is suffering from both depressive episodes as well as hypomanic episodes. Often, those who suffer from bipolar disorder may also have other underlying mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
  3. Cyclothymia: People with this kind of disorder suffer from constant and chronic manic stages of emotions. The symptoms for this are more mild than those of the aforementioned types of disorders. The patient usually only suffers from mild depression and hypomania.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms for each type of episode are different, and some of them have been detailed for your reference below:

Manic episode symptoms

  1. Uncontrollable amounts of happiness 
  2. Frequent changes in topics when talking 
  3. Easily distracted
  4. Not having enough sleep but still feeling energetic 
  5. Irritation and agitation 
  6. Extreme and sudden changes in moods
  7. Racing thoughts
  8. Reckless, impulsive, and doing harmful things
  9. Increase in talking speed
  10. Hallucinations and delusions (in extreme cases)

Depressive Episode Symptoms

  1. Feelings of despair
  2. Thoughts about suicide and death
  3. Not being able to fall asleep or sleep for long periods
  4. Facing difficulty managing routines
  5. Feelings of extreme hopelessness, anxiousness, and sadness
  6. Slowed speech
  7. Forgetting things 
  8. Feeling a loss of motivation and losing interest in activities that bring joy
  9. Feeling restless 
  10. Low energy and fatigue

While the symptoms of this disorder remain the same for both men and women, there are certain bipolar disorder symptoms in females that differ from those in men. Women are bound to face mild versions of manic episodes but may also suffer from more depressive episodes. These episodes also happen at a higher frequency for women, with at least four or more episodes occurring within only one year. 

Bipolar Disorder Causes: Why It Happens

The main cause of this disorder has not entirely been pinpointed by researchers so far. Even through all this, certain factors can cause bipolar disorder in people: 

  1. Genetic Factors: History of the same disorder in a parent or sibling
  2. Brain Chemistry and Structure: Issues and differences in brain chemistry, structure, and/or functions of the brain
  3. Environmental Factors: Stress, trauma, physical issues, and illnesses.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment and Management

To manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder, doctors diagnose your condition and then proceed with the following treatment: 

  1. Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioural therapy or talking therapy)
  2. Psychoeducation (educating and helping patients learn about their disorder)
  3. Medications (mood stabilisers, antipsychotics, antidepressant-antipsychotics, and a certain type of anti-anxiety medication that is used for short-term purposes)
  4. Lifestyle changes (exercise, yoga, and meditation that can help with the management of bipolar disorder)
  5. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) (used when the person is not responding to prescribed medication)
  6. Supplements (Omega-3, Rhodiola rosea, S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), etc.)

Conclusion

Bipolar disorder is a mental health problem that affects a lot of people worldwide and oftentimes remains undiagnosed. It is important to remain educated on the issue, understand more about bipolar disorder symptoms and causes, and know how to manage it. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to seek medical help as soon as possible for the best treatment. 

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