WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER?
In times gone by, bipolar disorder was referred to as ‘manic depression’. In this day and age, the term encompasses symptoms including unprecedented levels of variations in one’s moods. These mood swings, more than just sometimes, act as the face of this mental health condition. These emotional highs and lows might be tamable for some individuals while they might interrupt the very functionality of day-to-day communication or interaction for others.
Bipolar disorder usually interferes with an individual’s levels of energy and stress, their sleeping patterns, their grasp over general clarity regarding their day-to-day activities. What primarily distinguishes bipolar disorder from the usual ups and downs of everyday life is the severity of these mood swings. The contrast between the two facets of one’s behavior is so conspicuous that it becomes next to impossible to discard the same as a simple temper tantrum.
Common in people in their late adolescence and early adulthood, bipolar disorder might mark its advent a little earlier for some people. Some people end up experiencing the early signs of the disorder during their childhood itself. Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that might last a lifetime. It needs to be monitored throughout a person’s life like any other long-term illness.
WHAT CAUSES BIPOLAR DISORDER?
A fairly common malady across the world, the treat-ability, and severity of bipolar disorder might vary from individual to individual. Its duration of existence can lie anywhere between a couple of years to an entire lifetime. While there is no single cause responsible for the occurrence of bipolar disorder, they are a few factors that studies have insinuated to be responsible. These factors include family history, social conditioning, etc.
While this mental health condition can’t be solely attributed to a hereditary affliction; family history might increase the likelihood of an individual being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Scientists are yet to pinpoint the root or the primary cause behind bipolar disorder. Further studies may give them a more concrete idea vis-a-vis the same. There might even be more clarity regarding the role and significance of genetic factors when further studies are conducted.
Scientific research has established that the brains of people with bipolar disorder differ from the ones that don't have this mental health condition. The latter conclusion has been derived from brain-imaging studies, a deeper dive into which might reveal more regarding bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SYMPTOMS OF BIPOLAR DISORDER?
The face of this mental health condition, the contrasting episodes of mania and depression can be broadly referred to as the primary symptoms of bipolar disorder. The manic phase can cause an individual to feel either euphoric or downright restless. The manic phase might leave an individual with a distorted grasp over clarity and an increased level of distractibility among other things.
The depressive phase on the other hand might make the individual relatively more prone to irritability, distractibility, poor sense of judgement, low levels of energy and a constant feeling of despair. The depressive phase in several severe cases might even cause physical pain. Other consequences of this phase might include rash driving and substance abuse among dangerous activities. People choose these risk-taking behaviors in a desperate attempt to deal with the sheer contrast in their euphoric and depressive phases.
While several symptoms of bipolar disorder are common across different patients, the intensity and duration of these symptoms might vary from one individual to another.
Symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder might look like the following:
1. Contrasting episodes of blissful behavior and hostile manners.
2. Restive behavioral patterns.
3. Fumbling with words.
4. Unusually high levels of energy.
5. Paranoia, mistrust, hypersensitivity.
6. A deficit of attention.
7. Racing thoughts.
Symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder might look like the following:
1. Feelings of despair.
4. Sleepiness or sleeplessness.
5. Suicidal tendencies.
6. Unusual change in weight (might increase, might decrease)
7. Unusual change in appetite (might increase, might decrease)
WHAT DOES BIPOLAR DISORDER LOOK LIKE?
Episodes of mania might include moments of euphoric mood, high levels of energy, high irascibility and restlessness. The depressive phase on the other hand might include feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts. Primarily characterized by extreme mood swings, bipolar disorder might cause unusual changes in levels of energy, patterns of sleep, general behavior and the aptness to think clearly. While some people might continue to live their lives unaffected by these changes, some people might find it extremely hard to find a similar balance.
The manic phase of bipolar disorder more than just sometimes appears problem-free because it often results in high levels of energy and consequently in high-productivity. The individual appears euphoric, speaks fast and it therefore becomes difficult to distinguish the same from any other form of excitement. The key point of differentiation is the intensity of restlessness the individual faces and exhibits during this period of excitement.
The depressive phase usually exposes the individual suffering from bipolar disorder to loss of appetite, feelings of guilt and hopelessness. In severe cases these feelings of despair and fatigue might escalate into suicidal thoughts and tendencies. An individual in this phase might experience increased levels of anger and irascibility.
WHAT DOES BIPOLAR DISORDER LOOK LIKE FOR CHILDREN AND TEENS?
Children of people who either suffer from have suffered in the past from bipolar disorder are more likely to develop the same at some point or another in their lives. Children or teens with bipolar disorder might exhibit signs of contrasting behavior on a relatively more frequent basis as opposed to any adult with the same mental health condition.
While symptoms of bipolar disorder might be quite conspicuous in adults, they might be unusually hard to identify in teens and children. Since children and teens are anyways prone to unforeseen changes in their behavioral patterns, finding the root cause behind the same can be hard. The cause can be bipolar disorder or it might just be another day in the life of a teenager.
The success of treatment for bipolar disorder like treatment for any other mental illness is directly related to how accurate the diagnosis for the same is. Exhibition of the symptoms listed above by the people belonging to this age group should be brought under the attention of a medical professional and monitored carefully.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL HELP?
When there are no obvious disruptions in their lives, people tend to ignore even the possibility of getting treatment when it comes to bipolar disorder. What they fail to realize however is the effect the tiny repercussions of the same might have on their personal and social lives. In case an individual or someone they know experiences suicidal thoughts; it is advisable to seek urgent medical attention.
For less severe cases people often choose to take it upon themselves to treat or deal with a loved one with bipolar disorder. It is advisable to seek medical attention even in less severe cases for it might take a toll on the mental health of the caregiver when looking after someone with this mental health condition.
The best way to look after a loved one with bipolar disorder is by prioritizing one’s own mental health first. With a healthier, stronger mind, one might find it easier, more convenient to help someone else heal from bipolar disorder or any other mental health condition.