Bipolar disorders is part of a group of disorders that cause sudden fluctuations in moods of a person. They are characterized by phases of depression and excitement that can manifest in response to stress, or for no apparent reason. Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. It usually starts between the ages of 15 and 25. The exact cause for it is not known, but it occurs more often in people with a family history of the disorder. In most people with bipolar disorder, there is no clear cause for display of extreme happiness or depression. The triggers for bipolar disorders include childbirth, medicines such as antidepressants or steroids, insomnia, recreational drug use, etc. Although mood shifts are a normal part of life, in individuals with bipolar disorders, the swings are more extreme and sometimes out of control. These become so intense that the person may not realize that they are not behaving normally; or the person suffers so much from depression that they may be paralyzed or overwhelmed by suicidal thoughts. These states may cause problems at work, with the family, with finances, and sometimes with legal authorities. Treatment for this disorder may require hospitalization in severe cases.
The manic phase may last from days to months. It can include symptoms such as getting easily distracted, reduced sleep time, poor judgment, loss of temper, reckless behavior. There may be a lack of self-control where they indulge in drinking and drug use, or physical contact with many partners. It may also manifest as spending sprees and elevated, expansive or irritable mood, including overthinking, false beliefs about self or abilities, and perhaps even getting over involved in activities.
The depressive episode may include symptoms such as, difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions; eating problems such as loss of appetite or overeating; fatigue or lack of energy; feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty; loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed; thoughts of death or suicide. They may also experience insomnia or too much sleeping (hypersomnia). Individuals may begin to pull away from friends as well.
Persons with bipolar disorder are at high risk of suicide. They may abuse alcohol or other substances till they lose consciousness.
In Bipolar I, a person has at least one high or manic episode, which should last for at least one week. One may only have a single manic episode, although most people with Bipolar I also have periods of depression. If untreated, a manic episode will generally last 3 to 6 months. Depressive episodes last rather longer than a year if left without treatment.
If you have had more than one episode of severe depression, but only mild manic episodes (‘hypomania’) you are most likely to be suffering Bipolar II.
If you have more than four mood swings in a year. The may usually occur about 2 months apart, or could alternate between being depressive or manic. This affects around 1 in 10 people with bipolar disorder, and can happen with both types I and II.
The mood swings are not as severe as those in full bipolar disorder, but can last longer. This can develop into full bipolar disorder.
The main goal of its treatment is to make the mood episodes less frequent. Talk therapy or counseling treatment helps in all cases whether moderate or severe. It aims to help you function well and enjoy life at home, at work, and mainly prevent self-injury and suicide. Its treatment mainly consists of working with triggers, and even prescribing medicines that are a key part of treating bipolar disorder. These mainly work as mood stabilizers and help avoid mood swings or episodes, which are the root cause of bipolar disorder.
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