Bipolar Affective Disorder

Bipolar Affective Disorder

31 May 2021

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, eneregy, activity levels, and the abil­ity to carry out daily tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symp­toms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives.

Bipolar disorder often appears between 18-30 years of age. At least half of all cases start before age 25. Almost 1.1% of the population suffer from Bipolar disorder. In recent research it was found that 8.7 million people in India suffer from Bipolar Affective Disorder.

Signs and Symptoms :

People with bipolar disorder experience unusually intense emotional states that occur in distinct periods called “mood episodes.” Each mood episode represents a drastic change from a person’s usual mood and behavior. An overly joyful or overexcited state is called a manic episode, and an extremely sad or hopeless state is called a depressive episode. Sometimes, a mood episode includes symp­toms of both mania and depression. This is called a mixed state. People with bipo­lar disorder also may be explosive and irritable during a mood episode. Extreme changes in energy, activity, sleep, and behavior go along with these changes in mood.

Symptoms of mania or a manic episode include :

Mood Changes

  • An overly long period of feeling “high,” or an overly happy or out­going mood
  • Extreme irritability.

Behavioral Changes

  • Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts
  • Being unusually distracted
  • Increasing activities, such as taking on multiple new projects
  • Being very restless
  • Sleeping little or not being tired
  • Having an unrealistic belief in your abilities.
  • Behaving impulsively and engag­ing in pleasurable, high-risk behaviors.

Symptoms of depression or a depressive episode include :

Mood Changes

  • An overly long period of feeling sad or hopeless
  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex.

Behavioral Changes

  • Feeling very tired or “slowed down”
  • Having problems concentrat­ing, remembering, and making decisions
  • Being restless or irritable
  • Changing eating, sleeping, or other habits
  • Thinking of death or suicide, or attempting suicide.

Bipolar disorder can be present even when mood swings are less extreme. For example, some people with bipolar disorder experience hypomania, a less severe form of mania. During a hypomanic episode, you may feel very good, be highly productive, and function well. You may not feel that anything is wrong, but family and friends may recognize the mood swings as possible bipolar dis­order. Without proper treatment, people with hypomania may develop severe mania or depression.

Bipolar disorder may also be present in a mixed state, in which you might experi­ence both mania and depression at the same time. During a mixed state, you might feel very agitated, have trouble sleeping, experience major changes in appetite, and have suicidal thoughts. People in a mixed state may feel very sad or hopeless while at the same time feel extremely energized.

Sometimes, a person with severe episodes of mania or depression has psychotic symptoms too, such as hallucinations or delusions. The psychotic symptoms tend to reflect the person’s extreme mood. For example, if you are having psychotic symptoms during a manic episode, you may believe you are a famous person, have a lot of money, or have special powers. If you are having psychotic symptoms during a depressive episode, you may believe you are ruined and penniless, or you have committed a crime.

People with bipolar disorder may also abuse alcohol or substances, have relation­ship problems, or perform poorly in school or at work. It may be difficult to recog­nize these problems as signs of a major mental illness

Causal Factors :

Genetics : Bipolar disorder is frequently inherited, with genetic factors accounting for approximately 50% of the cause of the condition. If one parent has bipolar disorder, there is a 10% chance that his or her child will develop the illness. If both parents have bipolar disorder the likelihood of their child developing the illness rises to 40%. However, just because one family member has the illness, it is not necessarily the case that other family members will also develop the illness.

Brain chemicals : A recent theory about the cause of bipolar disorder is that it is related to abnormal serotonin chemistry in the brain. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters in the brain, and one that strongly affects a person’s mood. It is thought that the abnormal serotonin levels causes mood swings because of its feedback effect on other brain chemicals.

 Environmental Factors : A stressful circumstance or situation often triggers the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Examples of stressful triggers include :

  • physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • the breakdown of a relationship
  • the death of a close family member or loved one.

These types of life-altering events can cause episodes of depression throughout a person's life. Bipolar disorder may also be triggered by physical illness, medications or illicit stimulant drugssleep disturbances and overwhelming problems in everyday life, such as problems with money, work or relationships.

Bipolar disorder is also affected by the seasons, with symptoms of depression more likely to occur in winter and mania more likely to occur in the spring.

Women who are predisposed to bipolar disorder may experience their first episode while they are pregnant.  

Treatment of Bipolar Affective Therapy :

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. It runs an unpredictable course of ups and downs. When left untreated, these ups and downs can be devastating. The recurring manic and depressive episodes that characterize the disease make it difficult to lead a stable, productive life. Successful treatment of bipolar disorder depends on a combination of factors. Medication alone is not enough. In order to get the most out of treatment, it's important to educate yourself about the illness, communicate with your doctors and therapists, have a strong support system, make healthy lifestyle choices, and stick to your treatment plan.

Recovering from bipolar disorder doesn’t happen overnight. As with the mood swings of bipolar disorder, treatment has its own ups and downs. Finding the right treatments takes time and setbacks happen. But with careful management and a commitment to getting better, you can get your symptoms under control and live fully.

A comprehensive treatment plan for bipolar disorder aims to relieve symptoms, restore your ability to function, fix problems the illness has caused at home and at work, and reduce the likelihood of recurrence. A complete treatment plan involves :

Medication – Medication is the cornerstone on bipolar disorder treatment. Taking a mood stabilizing medication can help minimize the highs and lows of bipolar disorder and keep symptoms under control.

Psychotherapy – Therapy is essential for dealing with bipolar disorder and the problems it has caused in your life. Working with a psychotherapist, you can learn how to cope with difficult or uncomfortable feelings, repair your relationships, manage stress, and regulate your mood.

Education – Managing symptoms and preventing complications begins with a thorough knowledge of your illness. The more you and your loved ones know about bipolar disorder, the better able you’ll be to avoid problems and deal with setbacks.

Lifestyle management – By carefully regulating your lifestyle, you can keep symptoms and mood episodes to a minimum. This involves maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol and drugs, following a consistent exercise program, minimizing stress, and keeping your sunlight exposure stable year round.

Support – Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, and having a solid support system in place can make all the difference in your outlook and motivation. Participating in a bipolar disorder support group gives you the opportunity to share your experiences and learn from others who know what you’re going through. The support of friends and family is also invaluable. Reaching out to people who love you won’t mean you’re a burden to others. 

Myths about Bipolar Affective Disorder :

Bipolar disorder is just another name for mood swings.

Not so. The mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are very different than those of people without the condition. The mood swings of bipolar [disorder] are more severe, longer lasting, and maybe most significant of all, they interfere with some important aspect of functioning, such as ability to work at one's job, or manage one's home, or be a successful student

Bipolar disorder can be effectively treated and managed. More than 40% of bipolar patients can expect full and complete recovery while another 50% can expect a very marked reduction in their symptoms. Individuals can go into remissions during various periods of their life. Successful management depends on many factors including education about the illness, good communication with professionals involved in your care, a good support system (family and friends) and adhering to your treatment plan.

Bipolar Disorder is a figment of one's imagination.

Bipolar disorder is a treatable brain disorder that is real and can cause a lot of suffering, especially if it is not well managed. Individuals cannot just snap out of it! Recovery takes time and hard work.

People who have bipolar disorder cannot work

Proper medical treatment and good support enables most people (more than 75%) with bipolar to work and be successful.

Bipolar disorder is caused by a personal weakness or character flaw

Bipolar disorder is a medical condition just like diabetes or any other health condition. It is not caused by a weakness. People with bipolar disorder cannot “just pull themselves together” and get better. Treatment is necessary.

Bipolar disorder is under control, people can stop their medications once

Bipolar disorder is an illness that most often requires people to continue taking medications, even if they are symptom free. Medication can act in a preventative way, helping people to avoid relapses. You should always consult with your doctor before stopping any medications.

 

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