Bipolar disorder is a condition in which the patient can suffer from severe forms of mood swings: mania or hypomania, and severe depression (Major Depressive Episode). Both of these psychological states can cause significant distress and disruption in daily lives. There is no cure, but this disorder can be effectively managed by following a particular treatment plan.
There is no single recognized cause behind bipolar disorder. It is thought to be a manifestation of genetics and biological factors. Some risk-factors can predispose an individual to this condition:
- Family History
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Traumatic or stressful events
Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed in teenage years or early 20s. Symptoms may vary from person to person and may occur at frequent intervals or no more than once every year.
Mania: This condition presents as:
- Increased activity, energy, or drive
- Irritability or agitation
- Decreased sleep and increased desire to work
- Racing thoughts and unusual talkativeness
- Poor decision making and impulsive actions
Hypomania is a distinct state with similar symptoms, albeit much less severe and noticeable than mania.
A major depressive episode can present as:
- Depressed mood, sadness, feeling of hopelessness and lack of worth
- Suicidal ideation
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Social withdrawal
- Decreased ability to concentrate
- Weight loss
Diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be established after history, physical exams, psychiatric evaluation and assessment according to DSM-5 (diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders).
Treatment includes the following interventions:
- Medications (anti-psychotics, mood stabilizers, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety)
- Day Treatment Programs
- Substance Abuse treatment if required
- Hospitalization in severe cases