What Bipolar Disorder Is-Overview

What Bipolar Disorder Is. The mental health disease known as bipolar disorder was once known as manic depression and is characterized by strong highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

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Feelings of sadness and hopelessness, as well as a general lack of enjoyment in life, are common symptoms of depression. Feelings of euphoria, increased energy, or unusual irritability are all possible symptoms of manic or hypomanic episodes. Mood fluctuations have been linked to disruptions in sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior, and cognitive function.

Mood swings can happen once a year or several times. Between bouts, most people will feel some emotional symptoms, but this is not always the case.

Mood swings and other symptoms of bipolar disorder are unavoidable, but they can be controlled with medication. Medication and talk therapy (psychotherapy) are the mainstays of treatment for bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder

Many different forms of bipolar disorder and associated conditions exist. Mania, hypomania, and depression are all possible. Significant distress and difficulty in daily living might come from mood and behavior changes brought on by symptoms.

A case of bipolar I. You’ve had hypomanic or significant depressive bouts before or after your manic episode. Mania can sometimes lead to detachment from reality (psychosis).
Mood disorder bipolar II. You have experienced at least one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode, but no full-blown episodes of mania.
The disorder of cyclothymia. You’ve experienced multiple episodes of hypomanic and depressive (but milder than major depressive episodes) symptoms for at least two years (or one year in adolescents and teenagers).
Different kinds. For instance, medical conditions including Cushing’s illness, multiple sclerosis, and stroke can trigger symptoms similar to those of bipolar disorder or a comparable disorder.

In contrast to popular belief, bipolar II conditions are not a less severe variant of bipolar I. While the manic episodes of bipolar I can be extremely dangerous, the prolonged depression that can accompany bipolar II can be just as harmful.

Although bipolar disorder can manifest at any age, it is most commonly identified in young adults. Symptoms may develop differently in different people and may change over time.

Hypomania and Mania

The symptoms of manic episodes and hypomanic episodes are similar but not identical. Mania is more severe than hypomania and manifests itself in more pronounced ways in everyday life, including at work, in school, in social situations, and in interpersonal relationships. When manic symptoms lead to detachment from reality (psychosis), medical intervention is necessary.

Three or more of the following characteristics characterize a manic or hypomanic episode:

  • Overly optimistic, hyperactive, or wired
  • Increased vigor, excitement, or activity
  • A state of extreme happiness and confidence (euphoria).
  • Reduced sleepiness
  • Strange volubility in speech
  • Rapid-fire thinking
  • Distractibility

Bad choices, such as spending too much money, engaging in risky sexual behavior, or making ill-advised financial investments.

Clinical depression

An episode of major depression is characterized by the presence of debilitating symptoms that significantly impair one’s ability to function in daily life. When five or more of these occur, we call it an episode, and the symptoms:

Feelings of sadness, emptiness, hopelessness, or tears (irritability in children and adolescents)
Significant disinterest in, or an inability to find enjoyment in, virtually all activities
Changes in body mass index (BMI), including significant weight loss or gain when dieting is not involved, or changes in appetite (in youngsters, failure to gain weight as predicted might be an indication of depression)

  • Sleeplessness or oversleeping.
  • Either inactivity or agitation
  • Energy depletion or exhaustion
  • Negative emotions, such as self-loathing or excessive guilt
  • Reduced mental capacity, indecision, or inability to focus
  • Suicidal ideation, planning, or behavior

Added Bipolar Disorder Characteristics

There is overlap between the signs and symptoms of bipolar I and bipolar II disorders, thus symptoms including anxiety, depression, and even psychosis are possible. Diagnostic terms like “mixed” or “rapid cycling” may be applied to symptom onset and resolution cycles. Pregnancy and seasonal changes can also trigger manic-depressive episodes.

Manifestations in Young People

It might be challenging to recognize the signs of bipolar disorder in younger people. It’s not always easy to identify if someone is experiencing typical mood swings, the effects of stress or trauma, or something more serious like bipolar disorder.

Different from the pattern seen in adults with bipolar disorder, children and adolescents may experience major depressive or manic, or hypomanic episodes. Furthermore, episodes can cause a rapid shift in mood. It’s possible that some kids will go for long stretches without ever experiencing a mood swing.

Extreme and uncharacteristic shifts in mood may be the most noticeable feature of bipolar disorder in young people.

To see a doctor when

Those who suffer from bipolar disorder frequently fail to seek treatment because they fail to acknowledge the extent to which their emotional instability impacts their own and their loved ones’ daily life.

Some people with bipolar disorder report feeling elated and productive during their manic phases. This high, however, is always followed by a low that can leave you feeling dejected, exhausted, and possibly in legal, financial, or interpersonal hot water.

Depression and mania are serious mental health conditions that require medical attention. The mood of disorder bipolar does not improve by itself. You can get your symptoms under control with the support of a mental health expert who specializes in treating people with bipolar disorder.

At What Point Should You Call for Help?

People with bipolar disorder frequently engage in suicidal ideation and conduct. Call 911 or your local emergency number, visit an emergency room, or talk to a trusted family member or friend if you’re having suicidal thoughts. or dial a suicide prevention hotline. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is open around the clock, every day of the week, and can be reached by calling or texting 988 in the United States. Or you could try the Lifeline Chat. All services are anonymously provided at no cost.

Make sure someone stays with a family member or friend who is suicidal or has attempted suicide. Quickly dial 911 or your country’s equivalent if an emergency arises. Alternately, transport the patient to the nearest hospital emergency room if you feel comfortable doing so.

Causes of bipolar disorder

Although the precise origin of bipolar disease remains uncertain, many potential contributors have been identified.

Natural variations. There seem to be structural alterations in the brains of those who suffer from bipolar disorder. The ramifications of these alterations are not yet clear, but they may aid in identifying their sources.

Genetics.Β Having a brother or parent who suffers from bipolar disorder increases the likelihood that you will develop the disorder yourself. The investigation of possible genetic factors to bipolar illness continues.

Possible dangers

The likelihood of developing bipolar disorder or experiencing an initial episode may be influenced by several factors.

Possessing a first-degree family (a parent or sibling) who suffers from manic-depressive illness
High-stress times, such as when a loved one dies or when anything else terrible happens.

Misuse of drugs or alcohol

Complications of bipolar disorder

The untreated bipolar disease can cause severe difficulties in all areas of life, including:

  • Substance abuse and related problems
  • Suicide or attempts to commit suicide
  • Issues with the law or the finances
  • Relationship damage
  • Underachieving in terms of job or school
  • Concurrent disorders

It’s possible that a person with bipolar illness simultaneously has another medical problem that needs attention. The severity of bipolar disorder symptoms or the effectiveness of treatment may be increased by certain situations. Some instances are:

  • Disorders of Anxiety
  • Disorders of eating
  • A disorder characterized by inattention and hyperactivity (ADHD)
  • Drug and alcohol abuse issues

Problems with one’s physical health, such as high blood pressure, hypothyroidism, migraines, or being overweight.

Prevention of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder cannot be avoided by normal means. The severity of bipolar disorder and other mental health issues can be mitigated with early intervention treatment.

Those who have been diagnosed with bipolar illness can take the following measures to lessen the severity of their symptoms and delay the onset of manic or depressive episodes:

Keep an eye out for red flags. Taking care of symptoms as soon as possible helps lessen the severity of bouts. It’s possible that you’ve figured out a pattern in your manic or depressive bouts. If you suspect you are entering a manic or depressive episode, contact your doctor immediately. Get close friends or family involved in keeping an eye out for red flags.

Stay away from booze and drugs. Symptoms can get worse and return more frequently if you drink or use drugs for fun.
Always follow your doctor’s advice when taking medication. You might want to give up on treatment, but you shouldn’t. You could have withdrawal symptoms or find that your symptoms reappear if you suddenly stop taking your medicine or significantly reduce your dosage.


Possible components of a diagnostic process for bipolar disorder include:

  • In-person checkup. In order to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms, your doctor may perform a physical examination and order laboratory testing.
  • Psychological evaluation. A psychiatrist is a medical professional who can help you make sense of your emotions, ideas, and actions after being referred by your primary care physician. A psychological self-test or questionnaire is also an option. Your close friends and family members may be asked about your symptoms if you give them permission to do so.
  • Feelings logs. As part of the diagnostic and therapy process, you may be required to keep a daily diary of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Bipolar disorder diagnostic criteria. The DSM-5, published by the American Psychiatric Association, includes diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder and related disorders, which your psychiatrist may use to help diagnose you.

Pediatric diagnosis

Although the same criteria as for adults are used to diagnose children and adolescents with bipolar disorder, symptoms in children and adolescents often present in a distinct pattern and may not fit neatly into the diagnostic categories.

Diagnosis can be further difficult since many children with bipolar illness also have another mental health condition, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or behavioral issues. The best course of action is to get the youngster seen by a child psychiatrist who specializes in bipolar disorder.


A mental health professional (psychiatrist) with experience treating bipolar disorder and similar conditions should guide treatment. Psychologists (s), social worker(s), and psychiatric nurse(s) may also be part of your treatment team.

The effects of bipolar disorder are permanent. Symptom management is the focus of treatment. Possible therapeutic options include:


In many cases, you’ll need to immediately begin taking medicine to restore your emotional equilibrium.

Keep up with the treatment. Medication for bipolar disorder must be used indefinitely, even if symptoms improve. Patients who stop taking their maintenance medication run the danger of experiencing a relapse of their symptoms or of having their mild mood swings develop into severe manic or depressive episodes.

  • Day treatment centers. A day program is an option that your doctor may suggest. While symptom control is being achieved, you will have access to the necessary support and counseling through these programs.
  • Rehabilitation from an addiction. Substance abuse treatment is necessary if you have a drinking or drug issue. Without treatment, managing bipolar disorder can be extremely challenging.
  • Hospitalization.Β Hospitalization may be recommended by your doctor if you are exhibiting dangerous behavior, contemplating suicide, or experiencing psychosis. Hospitalization for psychiatric care during a manic or major depressive episode can help you feel more secure and in control of your emotions.

Medication and psychotherapy are the mainstays of care for bipolar disorder, with the addition of support groups and educational resources when necessary.


Bipolar disorder can be treated with a variety of drugs. Your specific symptoms will determine which medications are recommended and in what dosages.

Medications might consist of:

  • Calming agents. Medication to stabilize your mood is usually necessary while dealing with mania or hypomania. Mood stabilizers can be found in medications like lithium (Lithobid), valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex sodium (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, others), and lamotrigine (Lamictal).
  • Antipsychotics.Β Antipsychotic drugs including olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), aripiprazole (Abilify), ziprasidone (Geodon), lurasidone (Latuda), or asenapine (Saphris) may be helpful if symptoms of depression or mania continue despite treatment with other medications. Your doctor may recommend one or more of these drugs, either alone or in combination with a mood stabilizer.
  • Antidepressants.Β To help with the symptoms of depression, your doctor may prescribe an antidepressant. Antidepressants can cause manic episodes, hence they are typically taken with mood stabilizers or antipsychotics.
  • Antidepressant-antipsychotic.Β Symbyax is a combination of fluoxetine (an antidepressant) and olanzapine (an antipsychotic). As a mood stabilizer, it also helps with depression.
  • Medication to reduce anxiety. Anxiety and sleep problems may benefit from short-term use of benzodiazepines.

Locating an Appropriate Medication

You may need to try out a few different medicines before you find the one(s) that work best for you. If one doesn’t do the trick, there are plenty of others.

Some medications take weeks or months to take effect, so you’ll need to be patient throughout this process. In order to determine which medications alleviate your symptoms while causing you the least amount of discomfort, your doctor will typically only make one modification at a time. As your symptoms shift, your doctor may need to make adjustments to your medications.

Influenced by

Finding the proper medications and doses for you and letting your body acclimate to the medications usually results in a reduction or elimination of any mild side effects. If you’re experiencing bothersome side effects, it’s important to talk to your doctor or a mental health expert.

Stay on your current treatment plan and don’t make any adjustments. It’s possible that your symptoms will get worse or reappear if you suddenly stop taking your prescription. You can have a manic or hypomanic episode, feel like killing yourself, or become severely sad. Consult your physician if you feel the need for a modification.

Pregnancy and certain medications

Several drugs used to treat bipolar disorder have been linked to fetal harm and have been shown to enter breast milk. Pregnancy is not the time to take certain medications like valproic acid or divalproex sodium. Furthermore, the effectiveness of birth control pills may decrease if taken with certain drugs for bipolar disorder.

If at all feasible, you should talk to your doctor about available treatments before you conceive. Talk to your doctor straight away if you’re taking medication for bipolar disorder and you’re trying to conceive.


Treatment for bipolar disorder often includes psychotherapy, which can be given to the patient individually, with their family, or in a group. Multiple therapeutic approaches may be useful. Among these are:

  • Rhythm treatment for interpersonal and social interactions (IPSRT). The primary goal of IPSRT is to help people establish regular patterns of behavior over the course of a day. Having a regular schedule makes it easier to regulate your emotions. Setting daily routines for sleep, eating, and exercising may help those with bipolar disorder.
  • CBT refers to cognitive and behavioral therapy. The goal is to recognize unhelpful ideas and habits and to replace them with more constructive ones. Triggers for manic or depressive episodes can be identified with the use of cognitive behavioral therapy. You’ll also pick up some useful techniques for dealing with anxiety and tense circumstances.
  • Psychoeducation. You and your loved ones can benefit from psychoeducation regarding bipolar disorder. By being in the know, you may seek the aid you need, pinpoint problems, formulate a strategy to avoid relapse, and maintain your commitment to treatment.
  • Treatment centered on the whole family. You and your loved ones will be better able to spot and handle the early warning signs of mood swings if you have the support and communication of your family.

Alternative medical approaches

Additional therapies may be added to your depression therapy depending on your specific needs.

In electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), a short seizure is induce by passing electrical currents through the brain. There is evidence that electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can ameliorate mental disorder symptoms by altering brain chemistry. ECT may be use to treat bipolar disorder if medicines fail, you cannot take antidepressants due to pregnancy, or you are at high suicide risk.

For patients who haven’t found relief from depression with medicines, researchers are exploring transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Pediatric and Adolescent Care

Treatments for children and adolescents are usually based on symptoms, medication side effects, and other factors.
Common components of treatment are:

  • Medications. Bipolar children and adolescents are treating with adult medications. Treatment recommendations are often basis on adult studies because few pediatric studies have been done on bipolar medications.
  • Psychotherapy. Treatment, both immediately and over time, can help reduce the likelihood of recurrence. Routines, coping strategies, learning difficulties, social issues, and family connections and communication can all benefit from psychotherapy for children and adolescents. Bipolar disorder can be treat, however, substance abuse is common in older children and teenagers.
  • Psychoeducation.Β You can discover the differences between your child’s bipolar symptoms and those associated with his or her age, environment, and culture through psychoeducation.

The best way to help your child with bipolar disorder is to learn as much as you can about it.
Support.Β Finding the right resources and staying motivated is easier with the help of friends, family, and teachers.

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