What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes unpredictable changes in a person's mood, energy levels and ability to function. Individuals may experience extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression) which occur over distinct timeframes of days to weeks. Different people can experience depressive and manic episodes with varying degrees of severity.
Symptoms of manic and hypomanic episodes include:
- Reduced need for sleep
- Increased risky behaviour
- Abnormally enthusiastic, jittery or wired
Manic and hypomanic episodes are two distinct types of episodes with similar characteristics.
A hypomanic episode may experience less severe symptoms that last four days in a row, while a manic episode lasts for at least one week and often requires the patient to be hospitalised due to psychosis. The patient is to be hospitalised to ensure their safety.
Symptoms of depressive episodes include:
- Self doubt or extreme feelings of guilt
- Depressed mood
- Loss of interest in almost all activities
- Either decreased or excessive sleeping
- Fatigue or decrease in energy
- Concentration difficulties and indecisiveness
Bipolar disorder typically manifests before the age of 25 but symptoms of bipolar disorder can be difficult to identify. Bipolar disorder is generally diagnosed by mental health professionals based on the patient's symptoms, lifetime experiences, and in certain circumstances, family history.
Be open to speaking to a medical or mental health practitioner if you feel you are experiencing signs of mania or depression. You can manage your symptoms by seeking treatment from a mental health professional who has experience treating patients with bipolar disorder.
Type of Bipolar Disorders & Diagnosis
An individual will be diagnosed with:
- Bipolar 1 disorder, if a manic episode leads to depression. The extreme shift in behaviour may cause the affected to be out of control, which may require hospitalisation.
- Bipolar 2 disorder, if at least one hypomanic episode and one major depressive episode is experienced. Patients may experience depressive episodes more often, and their social and occupational functioning is interfered by the instability in mood ("highs" and "lows").
- Cyclothymic disorder or cyclothymia (a mild form of bipolar disorder), if episodes of hypomania alternating with mild depression lasts for 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). Symptoms may appear less severe and do not fit the description of a hypomanic or depressive episode.
However, the symptoms shown may vary in different individuals, including its intensity and frequency. It is important to consult a mental health professional to get a diagnosis that accurately describes your condition.
How is bipolar treated?
Persons with bipolar disorder require treatment with medications and psychological interventions by mental health professionals.
Medications may include:
- Mood stabilisers
How can I take care of myself?
- Monitor your mood
- Sleep hygiene
- Build a good support network
- Join a support group
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid alcohol and drugs
- Take medications only as prescribed by your psychiatrist
- Make a well-being plan
How can I support a loved one who has bipolar disorder?
- Be open to listen and discuss about bipolar disorder
- Notice their symptoms, including signs of relapse
- Find qualified doctors and therapists
- Set up appointments and accompany them
- Monitor your loved one's moods and medications
- Track treatment progress
- Alert the doctor to issues
By knowing how to recognise the symptoms, there is a better chance for effective treatment and finding coping methods that may prevent long periods of illness and relapses in the long term. Being involved for your loved ones can make a big difference in their treatment success.
At Mindcentric at ParkCity Medical Centre (PMC), you are under the best care of experienced psychiatrists. Our mental healthcare professionals offer extensive therapy for mental illness, ranging from counselling to medication and care recommended by our experienced mental health specialists.