What is a person with bipolar disorder like?
People with bipolar disorder frequently display extreme, intense, and disturbing emotional states known as mood episodes.
Bipolar disorder is a serious, persistent mental illness characterized by changes in mood, energy, and the ability to function. People with bipolar disorder frequently display extreme, intense, and disturbing emotional states known as mood episodes. Extreme happiness or excitement (mania) and melancholy (depression) are typical symptoms of mood episodes. People with bipolar disorder can also have normal moods occasionally.
Bipolar disorder is classified into:
- Bipolar I: Characterized by alternating severe depression and intense mania
- Bipolar II: It involves severe depression but a less intense mania (hypomania)
- Cyclothymic disorder: A less severe form of mania and depression
What does a person with bipolar disorder experience?
Bipolar disorder does not have a set pattern and differs from individual to individual. Patients may feel a particular emotion several times before switching to another state.
Symptoms of mania are:
- Decreased need for sleep
- Unusual sexual drive
- Patients may feel that they are on the top of the world
- Highly irritable
- Gets distracted easily
- Talks too much
- Increased energy
- Excessive happiness and excitement
- Perceiving oneself as grand
- Being impulsive
- Making unrealistic plan
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Multitasking many activities at once
- Highly risky behavior or reckless thoughts
Symptoms are severe enough to interrupt the daily activities of the patient. These episodes can be present from early childhood to later adulthood.
Symptoms of depression are:
- Intense melancholy, feeling hopeless and worthless
- Lack of interest in the activities once enjoyed
- Feeling extreme tiredness, fatigue
- Feeling restless
- Sleep problems
- Eating disorder
- Lack of concentration
- Thoughts of suicide and even attempting it
Who gets bipolar disorder?
Some of the factors that can trigger or are associated with bipolar disorder are:
- Family history of bipolar disorder
- People subjected to extreme stress
- Sleep deprivation
- Faulty genes
- Drugs and alcohol may sometimes trigger the episodes
- Pregnancy may trigger post-delivery mental disorders
How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?
One must undergo a mental status examination to evaluate the disease. A psychiatrist will assess the following:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Physical health
- Thought process
- Physical health
The diagnosis depends mostly on history-taking. Lab tests the patient are done to rule out other underlying conditions. These include:
- Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR)
- Fasting glucose
- Thyroid hormone
- Creatinine and blood urea nitrogen
- Liver and lipid panel
How is bipolar disorder treated?
The management of bipolar disorder involves a combination of medicines and other psychological methods (psychotherapy). Treatment also depends on the type of bipolar disorder.
Medications used to treat bipolar disorders are:
- Benzodiazepines: Lorazepam
- Amtimanic agents: Lithium
- Anticonvulsants: Carbamazepine and sodium valproate
- First-generation antipsychotics: Haloperidol
- Second-generation antipsychotics: Risperidone
- Dopamine agonists: Pramipexole
- Phenothiazine antipsychotics: Chlorpromazine
When medication therapy is ineffective, electroconvulsive therapy might be considered. During electroconvulsive therapy, an electric current is passed through the brain to treat the disorder. In some, talk therapy (psychotherapy) has proven to be beneficial in treating mood episodes. Another part of treatment is psychoeducation where patients and their families are educated regarding symptoms and importance of medication compliance.
What to expect after bipolar disorder treatment?
Recognizing the symptoms early and treating it promptly is necessary to prevent complications such as suicide, homicide and addictions.
Some lifestyle modifications are important in managing bipolar disorder:
- Treatment compliance is of utmost importance for the patient as well as the caregivers.
- Always follow a routine for sleep and meals.
- Talk to your family and friends and ask for their support.
- Try connecting with other patients and caregivers through social groups.
- Talk to a licensed medical practitioner about your symptoms.