10 Things You Should Know About Bipolar Disorder
by Amina Orucevic
Mental health can be hard to deal and live with, but mental disorders are real, and can have tremendous effect on individuals and their families. Mental disorders consist of many different diseases and types (1). Bipolar disorder is a mental illness which causes mood swings with no apparent reason or explanation. These severe mood swings are referred to as episodes. There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but there are many efficient treatments (2). Here are 10 things you should know about bipolar disorder to help you cope with it, and also prevent it from happening to you or your loved one.
1. Every year about one out of four personal get diagnosed with a mental disorder, and two thirds of patients don’t take precautions to seek treatment. Depression seems to have a number one spot in leading cause, followed by bipolar disorder. (1)
2. There are two types of bipolar disorder which are determined by different episodes a person with bipolar illness faces.
- Bipolar I disorder: Episodes of severe manic symptoms that cause serious depression.
- Bipolar II disorder: Manic episodes with less serious symptoms but do cause depression. Also referred to as hypomania. (2)
3. Cyclothymic Disorder/Cyclothymia, is a mild type of bipolar disorder. People who have cyclothymia have episodes of bipolar ll and experience mild depression off and on for at least two to six years (6).
4. There are three main types of bipolar episodes that could potentially disrupt your personal life as well as financially and physically.
- Manic episodes: The “high moods” or “mania” usually making a person ‘too happy’, irritable/bad tempered, or restless.
- Depressive episodes: Is where a person has ‘down’ moods, and feels sad, hopeless, or fatigued.
- Mixed episodes: Having symptoms of acute manic episodes and depressive episodes at the same time (2).
5. Symptoms of a manic episode may include:
- Inflated self-esteem
- Reduced need for sleep
- More talkative than usual
- Racing thoughts
- Easily distracted
- Increase in goal activity
- Involvement in pleasurable, high risk activities, such as spending, sexual activities, etc.
- Energetic/restlessness (2).
6. Symptoms of depressive episodes of bipolar disorder may include:
- Lack of interest in daily activities
- Depressed mood most of the day
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Agitation or retardation
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Trouble concentrating
- Thoughts of suicide or death (3,4)
7. Who is at risk?
- Mental disorders occur in all racial, ethnic societies. The exact causes of mental disorders including bipolar disorder are unknown, but it has been predicted, and some research has demonstrated that genetics, biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors have an impact and might contribute to the causes. (1)
8. What causes bipolar disorder?
- Scientists and doctors don’t know what causes bipolar disorder, but they believe it may be caused by chemical imbalances in the brain.
9. Treatment plan:
- The support of family and friends
- Taking care of yourself physically
- Keep a daily diary
- Learn to recognize early warning signs of an episode
- Pocket response plan (4).
10. To help a friend or relative, you can:
- Offer emotional support, understanding, patience, and encouragement.
- Learn about the illness so you can understand what your loved one is experiencing and how to help.
- Talk to your friend or relative and listen closely.
- Listen to feelings your loved one expresses.
- Be understanding about situations that may trigger bipolar symptoms.
- Encourage you friend or relative for positive interactions, such as sports, vacations, walks, and other outdoor activities.
- Support and acknowledge their decisions.
- Let your loved one know that with time and treatment, she/he will get better (5).