What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is an extreme mood shift that is accompanied by fluctuating energy levels which are the hallmark symptoms of this serious mental disease. Another name for bipolar disorder is a depressive bead.

It is important to remember that bipolar is a manageable disease as long as following the recommended treatment methods, therapy, and healthy lifestyle habits. There are two episodes of bipolar disorder, the episode of mania (up phase) and depression (phase-down).

In the period of mania, the patient becomes visibly vibrant, energetic, and fast-talking. While in the period of depression, the patient will look sad, lethargic, and lost interest in daily activities. This mental disorder may have a significant impact on various aspects of life including career, relationships, academic performance, and even commit suicide.

Bipolar Disorder Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Bipolar Disorder Causes

Until now, the experts do not know the cause of bipolar disorder. This condition is thought to arise due to an imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is also believed that genetics, neurochemical composition, and environmental factors play a major role in bipolar disorder onset and progression.

The symptoms may appear at any time. The appearance of these symptoms can be triggered by several things. One of them is excessive stress. Besides stress, some of the social and environmental factors that trigger bipolar disorder such as:

  • Physical, sexual or emotional abuse
  • The household problem, financial, or work problem
  • Stress due to everyday problems
  • Addictions of alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs
  • Sleeping disturbances
  • Physical illness
  • Loss of a loved one or failed relationship
  • Hormonal imbalance

Bipolar Symptoms

There are many different symptoms of bipolar disorder and their occurrence varies depending on a mood episode.

Symptoms of the Mania Phase 

The mania phase is marked by a significant mood increase that causes people with bipolar will feel very excited and energetic. The symptoms during mania phases are:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated self-esteem
  • Uncharacteristic talkativeness
  • Failure to concentrate
  • Impaired judgment
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Delusions and Hallucinations
Bipolar Disorder Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Symptoms of the Depressive Phase

This phase is the opposite of the mania phase. A depressive episode is characterized by feelings of extreme sadness. The symptoms in this phase are:

  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Low energy levels
  • Sleeping problems
  • Excessive feelings of inappropriate guilt
  • Poor concentration
  • Irritability
  • Withdrawal from relatives and friends

Bipolar Treatment

The purpose of bipolar treatment is to decrease the frequency of mania or depression episodes. So, the patient can live normally, happy, and mingle with the people around. Since bipolar is a lifelong condition, it requires ongoing treatment.

Besides using drugs, bipolar treatment should be combined with psychological therapy under the guidance of a specialist or psychiatrist. The patients usually will be advised to improve the pattern of life in a healthier direction.

Conventional Medications

The medications to treat bipolar depends on the symptoms and medical history of each patient. There are three main classes of medication usually prescribed for bipolar patients.

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  • Mood stabilizers. These medicines are used to treat full manic and depressive episodes. The most common mood stabilizer prescribed to bipolar patients is Lithium. Other mood stabilizers that may be prescribed to you include anticonvulsants (valproic acid, lamotrigine, and carbamazepine).
  • Antidepressants. It is used to regulate the symptoms of depressive episodes. One of the commonly used antidepressants is fluoxetine.
  • Antipsychotics. Antipsychotic drugs are commonly used as a short-term treatment option for delusions and hallucinations and also effective to stabilize mood. The examples of possible antipsychotic drugs that may be prescribed are olanzapine, risperidone, aripiprazole, and quetiapine.

Natural Treatment

Natural remedies are a safer and effective way to control mood swings. Here are some of the safer alternatives that you can try.

  • Krill oil. It helps to boost the mood and improve neurological and cognitive function.
  • Rhodiola Rosea. It is a traditional herb that can help reduce stress levels, increase cognitive ability.
  • S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e)
  • 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)
  • Choline. It helps alleviate the symptoms of a manic episode.
  • Folate. This vitamin is present in several foods, including broccoli, avocado, spinach, and asparagus.
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin D. Optimize vitamin D levels through sun exposure may help improve the symptoms of this mental health problem.
  • St. John’s wort. St. John’s wort contains natural antidepressants.

Psychological Therapy

This treatment method aims to help patients gain a better understanding of bipolar disorder, relieve distress, and determine ways to cope with their condition. The patients will also be taught how to cope with stress effectively, and given advice about diet, sleep, and exercise is good for health. Not only patients but family involvement in psychological therapy can also be very helpful.