Bipolar affective disorder is often referred to as Manic Depression or MDI. It is a type of mental health condition due to which a person's mood gets affected. In this state, the mood changes from one extreme phase to another. On one extreme is the low phase termed as depression, and on the other extreme, is the high phase termed as mania or hypomania.
The duration of each of these phases is very unpredictable. It can last for just a few weeks or sometimes it can go on for a few months too. There is also no definite number of high phases or low phases that one would encounter in a lifetime.
In some people, it may happen that in between the highs and the lows comes a period when the patient behaves in a normal mood. In others, the change of phase is so rapid that there is no gap in between. This kind of a change is known as 'rapid cycling'. Normally, in such cases, mood shift may take place at least four times a year.
Bipolar disorder has no similarity with the usual mood swings that we see in moody people, as the effect of normal mood swings occurs for a few minutes, or hours, and not more than that. Manic depression can develop at any given age, but young people within the age groups of 18 to 20 are more prone to it.
Both men and women are equally affected by it. The exact reason behind this disorder is still unknown. However, it is believed that it is related to a genetic factor in an individual. External factors like stress can lead to a depression phase or manic phase, but these are not the main causes.
Symptoms of Depression Phase
Depression is more common than mania in this disorder. Conditions like mania or hypomania may not even arise in many people with this disorder. Some of the symptoms of bipolar depression are as follows:
- Sullen mood with lack of motivation and interest in the normal activities of life.
- Sense of hopelessness and things around seem to be dark.
- Pensive mood accompanied by tendency to cry very easily.
- Tiredness and fatigue which results in a tendency to avoid hard work.
- Common pains like headache, chest pain or palpitations.
- Sleeping problems may include excessive sleeping, lack of sleep, or disruptive sleep.
- Sense of guilt feeling or lack of self-worthiness.
- Loss of appetite that can lead to loss of body weight.
Symptoms of Manic Phase
During the phase of mania, the patients are extremely hyperactive with an excessively sensitive mood. They find it difficult to realize that they have some problem. Hypomania is a phase where the symptoms of manic phase are mild. The normal activities do not get much affected in this phase. One common symptom of hypomania is the inability to relax the mind.
People with this disorder show the following symptoms of bipolar mania:
- They talk too much or talk very fast.
- They feel more energetic than usual.
- They sleep less.
- They often get a rush of ideas and thoughts which may keep changing very frequently.
- They lack concentration which may lead to giving more attention to some irrelevant things.
- They start consuming alcohol or intake illegal drugs.
- They take risks unnecessarily, which may lead to the termination of any relationship or quitting of job.
- They lose touch with reality which can lead to problems like hallucinations and delusions.
The medicines used to treat bipolar disorder are commonly referred to as mood stabilizers. The most common medicine, being used for years now, is the Lithium tablet. It is more effective for the high phase or the manic phase. It is also used to prevent the future recurrence of the phases. Care should be taken that the dosage of the drug is accurate.
Tranquilizers are another form of medicines that are used to reduce the hyperactivity of the manic phase. They have a sedating effect, which helps to lower the symptoms of mania to a large extent within a week. They should be stopped as soon as the symptoms are gone.
Antidepressant medicines are also administered to provide relief from symptoms. These kinds of medicines may take a few weeks before some improvement in the condition can be observed. All these medications should be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle and regular physical exercises. Narcotic drugs and alcohol should be strictly avoided.
People with bipolar affective disorder often tend to discontinue their medicines as they get a feeling that they are not showing any results. This should be avoided, otherwise some of the symptoms can get aggravated later.
Disclaimer: This content is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for the advice of a mental health expert.