Periods of extreme good mood or extreme
sad mood/depression accompanied by high or low feel, all these can happen
within a few minutes thereby causing an emotional upheaval in a person. These
extreme mood swings are related to a psychiatric illness called bipolar
disorder. Also known as maniac depressive
disorder, bipolar affective disorder or maniac depression, bipolar disorder
is a lifelong condition that can be managed with appropriate treatment. People
with bipolar disorder experience a change in their energy levels and activities
along with severe mood swings. This disorder is aptly named bipolar disorder
because the mood of a person varies between two opposite poles of euphoria and
The highly elevated mood episodes
are known as mania or extremely sad moods are called depression. A patient
suffering from bipolar disorder might experience mania, depression or a mixed
feeling of both. A mild episode of elevated mood is known as hypomania. Normal
mood persists in between episodes of mania and depression.
The extreme variation in mood,
energy levels and activities can interfere with the day to day activities of a
person and can at times get a little dangerous. This disorder is not very easy
to diagnose in the initial stages and a person suffering from the symptoms for
years together might not notice it and might not realize the seriousness of the
condition. The initial symptoms are in line with symptoms of ordinary mood
disorders. Bipolar disorder usually sets in during the late teens or early
Types of bipolar disorder
Bipolar I disorder: In this type of disorder, the patient has at
least one episode of mania or mixed mood and often gets depressed. In between
mood swings, the patient might appear to have normal mood. Mood swings can come
about with changing seasons.
Bipolar II disorder: In this type of disorder, the patient has at
least one episode of depression and at least one episode of hypomania.
Hypomania is not a severe form of mania.
Cyclothymic Disorder: This is the mildest form of bipolar disorder.
The patient experiences mild gloominess/depression and somewhat elevated/happy
mood. Mood swings are less severe and prevail for a short period of time. People
with cyclothymic disorder might develop severe bipolar disorder with time.
Bipolar disorder non-specific: When a patient does not fit into any
of the above categories, that person is classified under this category.
Few people experience rapid-cycling
bipolar disorder, meaning they have at least 4 or more episodes of elevated
mood and/or depression in a year.
Causes for bipolar disorder
The exact cause for bipolar disorder is not known, the below mentioned causes are thought of to be the most
prevalent causes for bipolar disorder
Hereditary factor: Any relative from the patient's family might
have been a victim of this disorder thus passing on the disorder.
Hormone level fluctuation: It is understood that varying hormonal
levels in the body could lead to bipolar disorder. For e.g. people with altering
thyroid hormone levels are prone to this disorder
Brain part: Varying size and shape of parts in the brain can also
lead to bipolar disorder
Chemical imbalance in the brain: If the chemical levels in the
brain are not at the optimum levels, it can result in bipolar disorder
Bipolar order triggers off in
teenagers and young adults, but can affect older adults and children as well. Epilepsy
or seizures can also cause bipolar disorder. Any head injury can also cause
Symptoms for bipolar disorder
Symptoms vary from person to person;
the symptoms can be classified as per the mood. The most prevalent symptoms
Symptoms during depression mood
- Sudden changes in moods.
- Feeling unworthy, useless, guilty
- Sudden change in body weight and appetite (craving
for food or remaining without hunger)
- Excessive tiredness/fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering and making any
- Pain without a cause
- Change in sleep pattern
- Sudden loss of interest in all activities of life
- Suicidal tendency
Symptoms during mania/happy mood
- Feeling very happy, elated and in a great mood
- An urge to win and perform well to achieve
- Hurried speech
- Can be easily distracted
- Battling thoughts
- Sudden change in body weight and appetite (craving for food or remaining without
concentrating, remembering and in making any decisions
energy levels thus leading to high levels of physical activity
in sleep pattern
Diagnosis of bipolar disorder
Many people experiencing this
disorder are not even aware that are undergoing such a problem. People
generally speak of their depression stints and leave out the over elated/mania
stints, this makes it difficult for the physician to diagnose the disorder.
- Conduct a physical examination
- Ask about the person's family history and check out
for any previous cases of mental illness in the family
- Blood tests and brain scan might be ordered to rule
out conditions like brain tumor, stroke, etc
- The person will be referred to a psychiatrist who in
turn will examine the patient and talk to the patient's relatives to
enquire about the patient's general behavior.
Treatment for bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder varies from
person to person and so the treatment offered is also based on the current
condition of the patient.
Medications: Medications can help control extreme mood swings.
Psychotherapy/talk therapy: This kind of therapy enables the
patient to talk about his/her condition to the health professional. Talk
therapy sessions could be anyone or a combination of the below mentioned
Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches
to transform the negative and harmful thoughts in a person
Psycho education is educational
support by teaching people about the disorder and what they can expect of it
Family therapy educates the family
members to help the patient in recognizing and tackling the disorder and episodes
Interpersonal and social behavior therapy
educates patients on how to behave with other people and in the society
Electroconvulsive therapy: This therapy is useful for people in
whom medications and talk therapy
does not work. Electroconvulsive therapy is nothing but shock therapy
Bipolar disorder can not be prevented but identifying
the disorder at early stages and getting it treated through a trained medical
professional can help in tackling the disorder in a better manner.