What Is Bipolar Disorder? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, otherwise known as manic depression, is a mental illness characterized by unstable mood swings ranging from extremely high (mania) and mild mood elevation (hypomania), to exceedingly low (depression). These mood swings that individuals with bipolar disorder experience affect their daily lives, especially activities such as sleep, decision-making, and judgment. Mood swings are often called episodes. When bipolar individuals experience a manic episode, they are usually very enthusiastic, highly-energized, and irritable. Often, patients on their manic episode experience hallucinations and delusions aside from a decreased level of inhibition and the ability to take control of their actions. On the other hand, episodes of depression are moments of hopelessness, extreme melancholy, self-loathing, and at times, suicidal.

Types Of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can be classified into several categories depending on the severity of a patient’s manic-depression episodes. A specialist at a Sharjah medical center can diagnose bipolar in individuals who experience at least one manic, hypomanic or depressive episode. Below are the types of bipolar disorder a patient can be diagnosed with. 
Bipolar I Disorder
Patients who have bipolar 1 disorder may experience manic episodes that last for as long as a week. A manic episode can be so severe that patients can lose their sense of reality (psychosis) and may be admitted to the hospital. In fact, an untreated manic episode can go on for months. A patient can experience an episode of depression or hypomania prior to or after a major manic episode. 
Bipolar II Disorder
In contrast to bipolar I disorder patients, individuals who have bipolar II experience major depressive episodes that are either preceded or followed by hypomanic ones. Patients with this type of bipolar disorder do not necessarily experience major episodes of mania, unlike patients who have bipolar I.
Cyclothymia or Cyclothymic Disorder
This is often referred to as a milder version of bipolar disorder but at times lasts longer than a typical bipolar disorder. Cyclothymic patients share the same symptoms as bipolar individuals but do not experience full-blown manic or depressive episodes. 

Causes & Symptoms

According to the experts at a medical center in Sharjah, similar to other mental conditions, bipolar disorder does not have a single cause but is likely an amalgamation of several factors including genetics, the brain’s biological components such as imbalances in the brain’s neurotransmitters, and hormones. Environmental factors such as trauma, severe stress, and abuse can be instrumental for bipolar disorder to surface.The severity of symptoms can vary for different individuals. Unlike in the past where bipolar disorder was just recognized to be a type of depression, substantial data in mental health research has proven how different the two are especially in the approach of their treatment. For instance, medication for depression, such as antidepressants, is not effective for bipolar patients experiencing a depressive episode. According to a study by the Intramural Research Program published in the US National Library of Medicine, taking antidepressants can lead to bipolar patients experiencing mania and a rapid change in moods. Recognizable symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
  • Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or emptiness
  • Lingering thoughts of death or suicide
  • Irritability and elatedness
  • Inability to experience pleasure
  • Feelings of intense pleasure or euphoria
  • Fatigue
  • Physical and mental sluggishness
  • Changes in appetite and weight
  • Sleep problems
  • Focus and memory problems
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Bursts of energy and unjustifiable optimism

Treatment

The goal of treating bipolar disorder is to increase the quality of life of patients and alleviate the severity of their manic-depressive episodes. Treatment can help patients carry out their day-to-day activities. The most important step in the treatment of bipolar disorder is to immediately seek help.Therapies are available as treatments for bipolar disorder. These can include psychotherapy, interpersonal & social rhythm therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and for severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy. Medication and supplements are also available as treatments.If you want to learn more about bipolar disorder, or if you know someone who displays manic-depressive episodes, it is best to consult specialists to receive proper and immediate treatment. For more information, talk to our specialists at IBO, the medical center in Sharjah.
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