Introduction to Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a condition characterised by changes in mood. Classically, those affected alternate between periods of depression and mania (high mood).
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a condition characterised by changes in mood. Classically, those affected alternate between periods of depression and mania (high mood). The severity and course of the disease varies, but often the changes in mood have a significant impact on normal life. The condition is diagnosed in around 1 in 100 people at some point in their life, usually developing in early adulthood. Though there is no cure for bipolar disorder, several treatment options are available, aiming to stabilise and normalise mood. If you think you may be experiencing symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, please see a psychiatrist or GP.
What causes Bipolar Disorder?
The cause of bipolar disorder is not well understood, though it is likely to involve a combination of genetic vulnerability and environmental risk factors. Some likely contributors include childhood trauma such as neglect, abuse and bereavement. Other stressful life events such as money problems or breakdown of relationships may also contribute.
What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder involves swings in mood state between depression and mania. During a period of mania, you may feel elated, full of energy and self-important. Your thinking process may be accelerated, though it may be delusional, and this may be followed by rapid speech. You may not feel the need to eat or sleep and may take unusual risks. You may be unaware that you are experiencing these symptoms during their manifestation. During the depressed phase, you may experience sadness, self-doubt, low energy, low self-esteem, guilt, loss of interest, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and suicidal thoughts.
How is Bipolar Disorder treated?
Though we cannot yet treat the underlying cause of the disease, several successful therapeutic strategies exist, aiming to stabilise the condition and reduce the length of episodes. It is important to recognise and avoid any triggers of the disease. In addition, several medications exist, including lithium carbonate, antipsychotics and anticonvulsants. Furthermore, many people experiencing the condition find psychological therapies helpful. These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a form of talking therapy, as well as psychoeducation. Ultimately, the treatment of bipolar disease is a personal decision and it may take time for you and your doctor to identify the most effective combination of therapies for you.