Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a psychological condition which affects your mood and creates two extremes. Your mood goes from a state of mania, where you are extremely impulsive, charged, and excitable; to a state of depression, where you feel low self-esteem, low self-worth, and are unable to get energized enough to do anything. This can be very harmful as it may interfere with a person’s daily life.
This is not to be confused with regular mood swings, as those are mild to moderate. Bipolar is extreme, and both states can be very harmful to the patient as their elevated or depressed mood can affect their perceptions, judgment, and actions, along with many other aspects of their lives.
Mania and depression may not occur evenly. Many people are more depressed and their manic periods are shorter, or may be so moderate that they are virtually indistinguishable from stabilized mood. Others may experience the opposite.
Bipolar can affect one's quality of life when not treated properly, and if you begin to notice these symptoms in yourself, or in any of your loved ones, seek out a proper diagnosis as early detection can save them so much suffering. The symptoms are divided into those of mania (or hypomania) and those of bipolar depression.
Mania/Hypomain (symptoms lasting at least 4 days)
Unusual optimism and happiness
Sleeping less but feeling energized
Talking excitedly and very fast
Jumping from one thought to another very quickly
Inability to concentrate
Acting impulsive and reckless
Grandiose and unrealistic ideas
Delusions and hallucinations
Feeling unusually irritable
Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
Fatigue and loss of energy
Changes in weight and appetite
Changes in sleep pattern
Low self-worth and esteem problems
Feeling hopeless, guilty, sad, and empty
Inability to remember things
Sluggishness of thoughts and actions
Suicidal thoughts or attempts
If you are beginning to experience any of these symptoms, or have noticed them in someone close to you, it’s time to take action.
Causes of Bipolar
There is no one factor that can be singled out as the cause of bipolar disorder, and there are number of theories and studies that suggest multiple causes for the disorder. Some people are genetically predisposed to bipolar disorder, but this is not the only factor because studies with identical twins (who have the same genetic make-up) have proved that this is not always true.
Environmental and psychological occurrences, known as triggers, can cause bipolar as well. They include, but are not limited to, sleep deprivation, certain medicines, seasonal changes, trauma, stress, and substance abuse.
There are studies which document the chemical changes in the body of a diagnosed bipolar patient. Serotonin and dopamine levels, as well as other hormonal and neurotransmitter changes are sometimes thought to cause the disorder.
Living with Bipolar
People who say that bipolar disorder diminishes the quality of one’s life are wrong. Yes, having bipolar is challenging, and can lead one to do impulsive things like quit their job or take life-threatening risks; alongside suicidal thoughts and attempts. Therapy for bipolar disorder is helpful for learning to identify triggers and develop good coping skills to lessen the affects of Bipolar disorder. My clients find that when they learn to manage their symptoms properly, bipolar disorder does not prevent them from living a happy, successful, and fulfilling life.
Photo by Kyle Broad