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 depression.
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 adulthood.
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 bipolar disorder
Symptoms for bipolar disorder
Symptoms vary from person to person; the symptoms can be classified as per the mood. The most prevalent symptoms include:
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.
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
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.