Bipolar disorder: causes & symptoms

Bipolar disorder: causes & symptoms

Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that causes extreme highs and lows in mood as well as changes in sleeping, waking up, energy, thinking, and behavior. Manic depression is another name for it.

Bipolar illness patients might experience extreme highs of happiness and vigor as well as extreme lows of sadness, hopelessness, and sluggishness. Usually, people feel normal in the intervals between those times. Bipolar disorder is so named because the highs and lows can be compared to two “poles” of emotion.

When a person with bipolar disease feels too ecstatic and confident, they are said to be “manic.” Additionally, these emotions may cause irritation and rash or impulsive choices. Approximately 50% of individuals who are experiencing mania may also experience hallucinations or delusions, which are the seeing or hearing of unreal objects.

Hypomania is the term used to characterize mania’s milder symptoms, in which the person does not experience hallucinations or delusions and the symptoms do not significantly affect their daily life.

The term “depressive” refers to a person’s episodes of extreme melancholy or depression. The signs of major depressive illness, sometimes known as “clinical depression,” However, in which there are no manic or hypomanic episodes, they are the same.

Most bipolar patients have sad symptoms more frequently than manic or hypomanic ones.

Bipolar disorder types

The three primary forms of bipolar disorder are cyclothymia, bipolar I, and bipolar II

Bipolar I

At least one manic episode must occur for a person to have bipolar I. Before or after the manic period, you could encounter major depressive episodes or hypomanic episodes, which are less severe than manic episodes. All sexes are equally impacted by this kind of bipolar disease.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II patients go through one severe depressive episode that lasts for at least two weeks. Additionally, they experience at least one hypomanic episode every four days. This kind of bipolar disorder may be more prevalent among women.


Cyclothymia patients have periods of hypomania and depression. The mania and depression brought on by these episodes are milder and last for a shorter period of time than those brought on by bipolar I or bipolar II disorder. However, most sufferers of this ailment only have periods of no mood symptoms lasting one or two months.

Bipolar disorder symptoms

The extreme mood swings of bipolar disorder do not occur in a predictable way. Before shifting to the opposite mood, a person may experience the same mood state (depressed or manic) multiple times. These episodes can take place over the course of several weeks, months, or even years.

The degree to which it worsens varies from person to person and can also alter over time, worsening or lessening.

Symptoms of mania (“the highs”)

1. Excessive joy, optimism, and excitement

2. Sudden shifts from happiness to irritation, rage, and hostility

3. Restlessness

4. Rapid speaking and lack of focus

5. Reduced need for sleep and more energy

6. Unusually strong sex urge

7. Formulating ambitious and irrational plans

8. Displaying bad judgment

9. Misuse of alcohol and drugs

10. becoming more aggressive

11. Fewer restless nights

12. Reduced appetite

13. Larger sense of well-being and self-assurance

14. being prone to distraction

During depressive periods (“the lows”)

1. Sadness

2. Loss of power

3. Feelings of worthlessness or despair

4. Not appreciating things they used to appreciate

5. Difficulty concentrating

6. Forgetfulness

7. Conversing slowly

8. Less sexual desire

9. Unavailability of pleasure

10. Hysterical sobbing

11. Decision-making challenges

12. Irritability

13. Need to sleep more.

14. Insomnia

15. Changes in appetite that cause weight gain or loss

16. Suicidal or death-related ideas

17. Suicide attempt

Bipolar I Symptoms

Bipolar I condition must be diagnosed by:

1. At least one manic episode lasting at least a week.

2. Symptoms that interfere with regular activity

3. Symptoms that are unrelated to another medical illness, a mental health issue, or drug use

Additionally, you can exhibit signs of mania, sadness, or psychosis (known as mixed features). These signs may affect your life more significantly. If you do, you should get assistance from a professional as soon as you can (more on this later).

Although hypomania or depressive episodes are not a requirement for a bipolar I diagnosis, many persons with the disorder do report these symptoms.

Bipolar II symptoms

A bipolar II diagnosis requires:

1. At least one episode of hypomania lasting four days or longer, with three or more hypomanic symptoms

2. Changes in mood and behavior associated with hypomania that are noticeable to others but may not necessarily have an impact on your day-to-day activities

3. At least one major depressive episode lasting two weeks or more

4. At least 1 major depressive episode with five or more major symptoms that significantly interfere with your day-to-day living.

5. Symptoms that are unrelated to another medical illness, a mental health issue, or drug use

Psychotic symptoms can also be present in bipolar II, but only when a depressive episode is present. A mixed mood episode is another possibility, in which one simultaneously feels symptoms of hypomania and despair.

But mania won’t occur if you have bipolar II. A manic episode will result in a bipolar I diagnosis for you.

Cyclothymia symptoms

Obtaining a cyclothymia diagnosis involves:

1. Symptoms of despair and hypomania have alternated on and off for at least two years (1 year for children and adolescents)

2. Symptoms that never fully satisfy the requirements for a hypomanic or depressive episode

3. Symptoms that last at least half of the two years and don’t ever go away for more than two months at a time

4. Symptoms that are unrelated to another medical illness, a mental health issue, or drug use

5. Symptoms that are distressing and interfere with daily life

Cyclothymia is characterized by mood symptoms that fluctuate. These signs and symptoms might not be as bad as bipolar I or II symptoms. Even yet, they usually last longer, so when you have none, you often have less time.

Hypomania might not significantly affect your day-to-day activities. On the other hand, even if your symptoms don’t meet the criteria for a major depressive episode, depression frequently results in more severe suffering and interferes with daily function.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder has multiple causes. Researchers are looking at the potential triggers for it in some individuals.

For instance, sometimes it’s just a hereditary issue, meaning you have it because it runs in your family. The way your brain grows may also be important, although researchers are unsure of how or why.

Risk Factors of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder typically first manifests in a person during late adolescence or early adulthood. Rarely, it may occur while the child is younger. A family history of bipolar disorder may exist.

It is equally likely to affect males and women. Having four or more distinct mood episodes in a year is known as “rapid cycling,” and it is slightly more common in women than in males. In addition, bipolar women tend to experience more depressive episodes than bipolar males.

Women typically develop the bipolar disorder later in life, and they are more likely to have bipolar disorder II and have seasonal mood swings.

Women are also more likely to experience dual medical and mental health problems. Moreover, thyroid disease, migraines, and anxiety problems are a few examples of these medical conditions.

The following factors increase your risk of having bipolar disorder:

1. Family member suffering from bipolar disorder

2. Experiencing extreme stress or trauma

3. Overuse of drugs or alcohol

4. Specific health issues

When manic or sad, many people with the disease abuse alcohol or other substances. Seasonal depression, concurrent anxiety disorders, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are more prevalent in people with bipolar disorder.

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is treatable. It’s a chronic ailment that requires continuing treatment. Although, forms of the condition that are considerably tougher to cure can affect people who experience four or more mood episodes each year or who additionally struggle with drug or alcohol abuse.

A lot can change with treatment. You can feel better with a combination of factors, including skilled medical attention, medicine, talk therapy, lifestyle modifications, and the support of friends and family. It is a lifelong management requirement for a chronic health condition. Although, Many persons with this illness lead fulfilling lives; they have families, careers, and typical daily routines.

  • Medications. You’ll frequently need to start taking drugs immediately away to stabilize your moods.
  • Continued treatment. Even when you feel better, bipolar disorder needs to be treated with medication for the rest of your life. People who forego maintenance therapy run the danger of experiencing a relapse of their symptoms or of having mild mood swings develop into major depression or mania.
  • Day treatment programs. A regimen for day treatment may be suggested by your doctor. These programs offer the assistance and guidance you require as you manage your symptoms.
  • Substance abuse treatment. You’ll also require substance addiction treatment if you have issues with drugs or alcohol. Bipolar disorder can be exceedingly challenging to manage in the absence of this.
  • Hospitalization.  If you behave in a risky manner, experience suicidal thoughts, or lose touch with reality, your doctor may advise that you be admitted to the hospital (psychotic). Whether you’re experiencing a manic or major depressive episode, receiving psychiatric care in a hospital can help you be safe, calm, and in control of your emotions.

Medication and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) to regulate symptoms are the main treatments for bipolar disorder.

Medications of Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is treated with a variety of drugs. Based on your specific symptoms, your doctor will prescribe specific drug types and dosages.

Medications may include:

  • Mood stabilizers. Mood-stabilizing drugs are generally required to treat manic or hypomanic episodes. Lithium (Lithobid), valproic acid (Depakene), divalproex sodium (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, others), and lamotrigine are a few examples of mood stabilizers (Lamictal).
  • Antipsychotics. Antipsychotic drugs, such as olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), aripiprazole (Abilify), ziprasidone (Geodon), lurasidone (Latuda), or asenapine (Saphris), may be added if symptoms of depression or mania continue despite treatment with other medications Some of these drugs may be prescribed by your doctor either alone or in combination with a mood stabilizer.
  • Antidepressants. An antidepressant may be added by your doctor to help with depression management. A mood stabilizer or antipsychotic is typically administered together with an antidepressant since it can occasionally provoke a manic episode.
  • Antidepressant-antipsychotic. Fluoxetine, an antidepressant, and olanzapine, an antipsychotic, are combined in Symbyax. It serves as a mood stabilizer and a therapy for depression.
  • Anti-anxiety medications. Benzodiazepines are often only taken temporarily, however they may reduce anxiety and enhance sleep.

Medications and pregnancy

Several bipolar disorder drugs have been linked to birth abnormalities and can pass through breast milk to your kid. During pregnancy, certain drugs including valproic acid and divalproex sodium shouldn’t be taken. Additionally, taking certain drugs for bipolar disorder combined with birth control pills may reduce their efficacy.

If at all feasible, go over treatment choices with your doctor before conceiving. Consult your doctor straight away if you’re taking medication for bipolar disorder and believe you could be pregnant.

Side effects of Bipolar Disorder

Mild side effects frequently become better as your body gets used to the drug and you find the dosages and medications that work for you. However, If any of the adverse effects trouble you, consult a medical practitioner or mental health expert.

Don’t alter your drug schedule or stop using it. However, if you stop taking your medicine, you can go through withdrawal symptoms, or your symptoms might return or get worse. You might experience severe depression, suicidal thoughts, or a manic or hypomanic episode. However, call your doctor if you believe a change is necessary.

Psychotherapy for Bipolar Disorder

Treatment for bipolar disorder must include psychotherapy, given in, family, or group settings. Different forms of therapy might be beneficial. These consist:

  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT). The goal of IPSRT is to stabilize everyday rhythms including sleeping, waking up, and mealtimes. Although, a regular schedule enables better mood regulation. Moreover, The establishment of a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, and exercising may be helpful for those with bipolar disorder.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Finding harmful, destructive thoughts and habits and swapping them out for healthy, constructive ones is the main goal. Finding the causes of your bipolar episodes using CBT can be helpful. Additionally, you pick some helpful coping mechanisms for stressful circumstances.
  • Psychoeducation. You and others close to you can better comprehend bipolar disorder by gaining knowledge about it (psychoeducation). However, Understanding what’s going on can assist you in receiving the greatest assistance, identifying problems, creating a plan to avoid relapsing, and maintaining your adherence to treatment.
  • Family-focused therapy. In addition to assisting you and your loved ones in identifying and managing mood swing warning signs, family support and communication can help you adhere to your treatment plan.

Home remedies for Bipolar Disorder

To stop behavior patterns that exacerbate your bipolar disorder, you will definitely need to make some lifestyle adjustments. What to do is as follows:

  • Quit drinking or using recreational drugs. The negative effects of taking risks and abusing drugs or alcohol are among the main worries when it comes to bipolar disorder. If you’re having problems stopping on your own, get assistance.
  • Form healthy relationships. Include positive influences in your circle of friends. You can get assistance from friends and family members, who can also help you keep an eye out for mood swings’ warning indications.
  • Create a healthy routine. Keeping a consistent schedule for your sleep, meals, and exercise will help you maintain emotional stability. Before commencing any workout program, consult your doctor. Adopt a balanced diet. Although, If you use lithium, discuss healthy salt and fluid consumption with your doctor. Speak to your doctor or a mental health specialist about what you can do if you are having difficulties sleeping.
  • Check first before taking other medications. Before taking any prescriptions recommended by a different doctor or any over-the-counter supplements or pharmaceuticals, make an appointment with the doctor who is treating your bipolar disorder. Other medications can occasionally cause manic or depressive episodes, or they may conflict with the bipolar disorder medications.
  • Consider keeping a mood chart. It may be helpful to discover triggers, effective treatment alternatives, and when treatment has to be altered by keeping a daily journal of your moods, treatments, sleep, activities, and feelings.

Also Read: Foods and drinks that help in quitting smoking

Precaution of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder cannot be entirely avoided. To stop bipolar illness or other mental health issues from getting worse.

Some tactics, if you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, can assist keep modest symptoms from developing into full-fledged episodes of mania or depression:

  • Pay attention to warning signs. Early symptom management can stop episodes from growing worse. Although, Your bipolar episodes may follow a pattern, and you may have discovered their causes. However, If you believe you are about to experience a depressive or manic episode, call your doctor right away. Invite family members or friends to help you keep an eye out for warning indicators.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol. Using alcohol or other drugs recreationally can increase your symptoms and increase the likelihood that they will return.
  • Take your medications exactly as directed. Do not give in to the temptation to stop receiving treatment. However, If you stop taking your medicine or reduce the dose on your own, you risk experiencing withdrawal symptoms, or your symptoms can get worse or come back.