“Bipolar disorder can be a great teacher. It’s a challenge, but it can set you up to be able to do almost anything else in your life.” – Carrie Fisher

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in a person’s mood and energy level. While everyone experiences ups and downs, depending on the type of bipolar disorder, there are severe shifts in mood and behaviour that can seriously impact a person’s life.

A person with bipolar disorder may experience periods of an extremely elevated or irritable mood called manic episodes as well as episodes of depression. Both the manic and depressive periods can be brief, from just a few hours to a few days. Or the cycles can be much longer, lasting up to several weeks or even months. It’s not easy to diagnose bipolar disorder because depressive episodes are typically long-lasting and often dominate bipolar disorder; it’s easy for these episodes to be mistaken for other types of depression. Further compounding the diagnosis, is the fact that, manic episodes may make a patient feel productive and happy; hardly the type of condition for which the average person may seek help. Bipolar disorder requires significant medical history, and a patient may not perceive hypomania as part of their illness.

According to the APA (American Psychiatric Association), there are four major categories of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and bipolar disorder due to another medical or substance abuse disorder.

Bipolar I is characterized by one or more episodes of mania or mixed episodes (which is when you experience symptoms of both mania and depression).

Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed after one or more major depressive episodes and at least one episode of hypomania, with possible periods of level mood between episodes. The highs in bipolar II, called hypomanias, are not as high as those in bipolar I (manias). 

Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder characterized by several episodes of hypomania and less severe episodes of depression that alternate for at least two years. The severity of this illness may change over time.

Bipolar disorder due to another medical condition or substance abuse disorders doesn’t have a specific pattern. Also, they don’t match the other three disorders. Yet, they still have to meet the criteria for abnormal mood changes. An example is, if a person has depressive episodes, but their symptoms of mood elevation are too mild or brief to be diagnosed as mania or hypomania.

Genetic factors, hormonal imbalances might trigger or cause bipolar disorder. Environmental factors: Abuse, mental stress, a “significant loss,” or some other traumatic event may contribute to or trigger bipolar disorder.

 The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder are varied. Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions, making this condition hard to diagnose. The signs of bipolar disorder can generally be divided into those for mania, and those for depression.

Signs and Triggers of Mania

Mania can cause other symptoms as well, but seven of the key signs of this phase of bipolar disorder are:

  1. feeling overly happy or “high” for long periods of time
  2. having a decreased need for sleep
  3. talking very fast, often with racing thoughts
  4. feeling extremely restless or impulsive
  5. Becoming easily distracted means you can’t concentrate.
  6. having overconfidence in your abilities
  7. Engaging in risky behaviour, such as having impulsive sex, gambling with life savings, or going on big spending sprees.
  8. You find me reading lots of books at once.
  9. You’re talking faster than normal.
  10. You feel irritable.
  11. Friends have commented on your irritable mood.
  12. You have more energy than usual so need to be moving.

Signs and Triggers of Depression

Like mania, depression can cause other symptoms as well, but here are seven of the key signs of depression from bipolar disorder:

  1. feeling sad or hopeless for long periods of time
  2. Withdrawing from friends and family means People bother you.
  3. losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed
  4. having a significant change in appetite
  5. feeling severe fatigue or lack of energy
  6. having problems with memory, concentration, and decision making
  7. thinking about or attempting suicide, or having a preoccupation with death
  8. You’ve stopped cooking your own meals.
  9. You’ve stopped mixing with friends.
  10. You crave sugary food such as chocolates.
  11. You’re getting frequent headaches.
  12. You don’t care about others becaause you arepreoccupied with your own overwheming emotions.
  13. You need more sleep and take naps during the day.

Knowing your early warning signs and triggers won’t do you much good if you aren’t keeping close tabs on how you’re feeling. By checking in with yourself through regular mood monitoring, you can be sure that red flags don’t get lost in the shuffle of your busy, daily life.

You can't treat bipolar disorder once and be done with it. It's a lifetime condition, such as multiple sclerosis. That means lifetime management. Follow your treatment plan and live a healthy lifestyle—even when you feel healthy. Many people live well by keeping their bipolar disorder under control. Consult a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist right away if you see yourself fighting between highs and lows; Also, if you see the changes in your close ones. Know that your medicine and therapy may need to change over time. However, never change your treatment plan without first talking with your doctor. There is no doubt that living with bipolar disorder presents its challenges. But it’s equally true that with proper treatment, people can achieve stability and happiness.

 “Having bipolar disorder does not mean you are broken, its means you are strong and brave for battling your mind every single day.”

About the Author

Rhea Srivastava

I am Rhea. I'm a budding Clinical Psychologist. I've done a diploma in hypnotherapy. I have my youtube channel(RHEA SRIVASTAVA) with all the common

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  • Great article 💯💯💯

  • Very informative!

  • Very well written.

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