Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is manifested by fluctuations in the person’s mood: from depressed to highly elevated state. The periods of elevated mood are very significant and are known either hypomania or mania, depending on whether the symptoms of psychosis are present and on the severity of the state. During the manic phase, a person usually feels and behaves abnormally energetic, thrilled or happy. What is more, during this period people tend to make bad, sick and poorly thought out choices with little or no regard to the following consequences. The need for sleep is usually reduced.
The symptoms of the depressive phase include hopelessness, a feeling of sadness, irritability or even anger, excessive crying, extremely low self-esteem, fatigue, changes in eating habits/ weight, problems concentrating and thoughts of suicide and death.
However, in severe cases of bipolar disorder, a person can develop symptoms of psychosis: it is a condition which is also called severe bipolar disorder with psychotic features. The symptoms include hallucinations and delusions.
A major depressive episode may continue at least two weeks and may result in suicide if an individual is left untreated.
Generally, the causes of bipolar disorder still remain unclear, but it was proven that both environmental and genetic factors could play a role in causing this mental condition. The environmental factors include abusive or traumatic experience or a long sequence of stressful events during the childhood.
Moreover, it was also scientifically proven that bipolar disorder shows a strong hereditary component: people have much more chances to be diagnosed with this mental disorder if someone in the family has suffered from it.
Although bipolar disorder cannot be avoided, it is extremely important to be aware of the early manifestations of the disease. Early diagnosis allows assigning adequate treatment, which will help to avoid episodes of a sudden change of mood.
In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medication, such as antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. Lithium is a well-known and commonly used mood stabilizer. Various anticonvulsants are also referred to mood stabilizers. What is interesting is that a hospital treatment without the person’s consent is possible when the individual represents the danger to himself or other people and refuses to get the needed treatment.
In addition to drug therapy psychotherapy is also widely used:
·Individual counseling: face-to-face sessions with a professional therapist. During these sessions patients are taught to cope with stress, to control the symptoms.
·Family counseling: relatives of patients with bipolar disorder are also recommended to undergo counseling. A professional therapist will explain to relatives how to help the patient with the rehabilitation, how to recognize and prevent impending episodes of mania or depression.
·Group counseling: group sessions allow patients to share feelings and experiences, share ways to prevent symptoms.
Almost 1% of the population is affected with bipolar disorder. It was estimated that the most common age when this mental condition manifests itself is 25 years. Usually, people who suffer from bipolar disorder face financial, social and work-related problems. Moreover, they often have problems with social stigma.