We all experience mood changes. It’s natural. But if your moods are fluctuating from really high (manic) to really low (depression), it could be caused by a mental health condition known as Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental illness that mostly affects your mood. It has an impact on how you feel, and your mood can shift dramatically. Also known as manic depression, Bipolar disorder has no known cure, but there are treatment options available. Keep reading to find out more.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
In the US, there are around 5 million people, or 2.8% of adults, who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, with the majority of symptoms beginning to show with people in their 20s.
There are different types of bipolar disorder:
Bipolar I is where you have had at least one episode of mania lasting more than one week.
Bipolar II will see you more likely to have depressive symptoms, with at least one major depressive or hypomanic episode.
Bipolar I or II with mixed features, is diagnosed with those who have had manic or hypomanic symptoms, as well as depression. This is sometimes referred to as a “mixed bipolar state.”
Bipolar I or II with rapid cycling is where you have had four or more depressed, manic, or hypomanic episodes over 12 months.
Seasonal Bipolar I or II is when the seasons impact your disorder – so you may notice that you have depression every winter.
The Causes & Symptoms
There’s no concrete cause of Bipolar, however there are a few things that may make you more likely to develop the disorder. These include:
- Genetics – you’re 5x more likely to develop it if someone in your immediate family has been diagnosed
- Chemical imbalance – too little or too much of certain chemicals can lead to mania or depression
- Environmental – stressful life events, such as childhood abuse or loss, can increase chances
The symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe, impacting on your work, school and your relationships. You need to take note of both mania symptoms, and depressive symptoms:
For depression, keep an eye on the following:
- You’ve stopped talking to friends
- Don’t want to leave the house
- People annoy you
- Loss of interest in anything
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Suicidal thoughts
- You want sugary foods and carbs
- You experience regular headaches
- You sleep more during the day
For mania, it could be that you:
- Can’t concentrate
- Abnormally upbeat or jumpy
- Increased agitation
- Poor decision making
- Try to do many things at one time
- Talk faster than normal
- Are moody
- Are hungry all the time
- Have more energy than usual
Before you do anything, you should visit your doctor if you suspect you may have bipolar. Keep a record of your moods and show your GP. Although they can’t diagnose it, they can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist who can.
The treatment options vary. It could be that you’re prescribed medications, including mood stabilizers, antidepressants or antipsychotic medication; or you could try cognitive behavioral therapy – talking therapy that can help change the way you think about things. Therapy should help you to understand your condition better, think about the impacts of your mood and behavior, and help you to manage any difficulties you may be experiencing daily as a result of your diagnosis.
Finally, it’s important that you know the warning signs and triggers of an episode. Triggers could include stress, financial problems, arguments and seasonal changes; while signs very between depression and mania, as mentioned above.
Bipolar disorder is manageable with the right treatment and advice. Get in touch today if you want to find out more.