Bipolar disorder is a type of brain disorder characterized by unusual shifts in energy, mood, and physical ability of a person. It is also referred to as maniac depression. It involves recurrent episodes of depression and mania, which recur across the lifespan of an individual.
The affected person often experiences extreme mood swings. He/she may feel very sad, worthless, helpless, despairing and hopeless at times. At times they are hyperactive and may experience extreme happiness. This is named as bipolar disorder because the mood of a person alternates between extreme sadness and euphoric happiness.
There are two types of bipolar disorders: Bipolar I disorder and Bipolar II disorder. The first type involves episodes of severe mood swings, while the second is a milder form. Cyclothymia is a mild bipolar disorder.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not known. Various genetic, biochemical and environmental factors are involved in it. People with this disorder undergo certain physical and chemical changes in the brain. Altered function of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers of nervous system) and hormonal imbalance have also been associated with this disorder.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder are characterized by alternate patterns of depression and mania. The symptoms may vary with each individual case. The different symptoms manifested in the maniac phase and depressive phase have been listed ahead.
Manic Phase: A person in the maniac phase may feel very energetic, creative, and hyperactive. Some of the common signs of mania are increased activity and gestures, poor temper control, poor judgment, and pressured speech. The major symptoms of manic phase are:
- Extreme optimism
- Inflated self-esteem
- Rapid speech
- Aggressive behavior
- Racing thoughts
- Risky behavior
- Spending sprees
- Increased physical activity
- Increased drive to perform or achieve goals
- Decreased need for sleep
- Inability to concentrate
- Drug abuse
Depressive Phase: Some people may experience more episodes of depressive phase than maniac phase. Some of the general signs of depression are excessive worry, sadness, crying spells, and social withdrawal. Some major symptoms of depressive phase are as follows:
- Sleep problems
- Appetite problems
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Chronic pain due to unknown reason
Symptoms of bipolar disorder are serious and can affect the entire life of a person. Bipolar depression may result in damaged relationships, marital problems, poor performance in school or at job and even suicide. Hence it is very essential to seek an appropriate treatment immediately. Bipolar disorder can be diagnosed on the basis of the signs and symptoms.
The treatment focuses on stabilizing mood swings, and managing the symptoms. It can be treated with different drugs such as lithium, carbamazepine, valproic acid, etc. Various therapies such as psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and group therapy are found to be helpful the people with bipolar disorder.
Disclaimer: This content is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.