Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is one of the health conditions you would not wish on your worst enemy. It is a condition where the patient undergoes a shift all at once. The sad thing is that this condition can take away a loved one who is simply standing in front of you.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
There are four basic types of bipolar disorder; all of them involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.
Bipolar I Disorder— defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depression and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.
Bipolar II Disorder— defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes described above.
What triggers off bipolar disorder? Does it have a root cause? Well science shows that there are a number of risk factors that work in collaboration to bring about the situation. One that can never be doubted is that of genes.
Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling with the disorder have a higher chance of developing it than those without affected family members.
Identical twins don’t have the same risk of developing the illness. It’s likely that genes and environment work together in the development of bipolar disorder.
Sometimes a stressful event or major life change triggers a person’s bipolar disorder. Examples of possible triggers include the onset of a medical problem or the loss of a loved one. This kind of event can bring about a manic or depressive episode in people with bipolar disorder.
Drug abuse might trigger bipolar disorder. An estimated 60 percent of individuals with bipolar disorder are dependent on drugs or alcohol. People with seasonal depression or anxiety disorders may also be at risk for developing bipolar disorder.
Treatment for bipolar disorder is mainly done by psychiatrists but they should also be psychiatrists who specialize in the same. The treatment plan is all about team effort between a social worker, psychiatric nurse and a psychologist.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. Treatment is directed at managing symptoms. Depending on your needs, treatment may include:
Medications. Often, you’ll need to start taking medications to balance your moods right away.
Continued treatment. Bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment with medications, even during periods when you feel better. People who skip maintenance treatment are at high risk of a relapse of symptoms or having minor mood changes turn into full-blown mania or depression.
Day treatment programs. Your doctor may recommend a day treatment program. These programs provide the support and counseling you need while you get symptoms under control.
Substance abuse treatment. If you have problems with alcohol or drugs, you’ll also need substance abuse treatment. Otherwise, it can be very difficult to manage bipolar disorder.
Hospitalization. Your doctor may recommend hospitalization if you’re behaving dangerously, you feel suicidal or you become detached from reality (psychotic). Getting psychiatric treatment at a hospital can help keep you calm and safe and stabilize your mood, whether you’re having a manic or major depressive episode.