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Bipolar Disorder: Types, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.

There are many mental health conditions but only a few of them have gained a reasonable amount of public attention.

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This article takes a look at one of the most common mental health condition that plagues thousands of people yet is often overlooked. Let’s discuss Bipolar disorder.

What exactly is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition marked by extreme shifts in a person’s mood. Bipolar disorder can also be called maniac depression or bipolar disease. The symptoms of bipolar disorder can include some episodes of depression and an extremely elevated mood known as mania.

People dealing with the bipolar disease may find it challenging to deal with daily tasks at work, school, at home, and even maintaining the their relationships with people. There is currently no permanent treatment for insomnia, however there are various treatment options available to help sufferers manage the symptoms.

Facts about bipolar disorder

A lot of people believed that bipolar disorder is a rare kind of brain disease that affects only aged people. Studies show that this assumption is incorrect as about 26% of the population of the United States of America, which is approximately 5.7 million people aged 18 and above are diagnosed with the condition annually.

The median age for people to exhibit symptoms of bipolar disorder has been pegged at 25 years nevertheless the illness can start in early childhood or in people as 50 years of age.

Depression as a result of the bipolar disease can last for about two weeks or a little longer while a high maniac episode can be around for many days or extend to weeks. For some people, episodes of mood swings can occur very rarely while for others it may happen several times a year.

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

Three basic symptoms may occur with bipolar disease: depression, hypomania, and mania.

Mania

During mania episodes a person dealing with bipolar disorder may feel a rush of emotional high. Such a person may become overly excited, euphoric, full of energy, and also impulsive.

While experiencing a manic episode, the person may engage in drug use, spending sprees, plenty of partying, and even unprotected sex.

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Hypomania

Hypomania is similar to mania but specifically associated with bipolar 2 disorder. Although hypomania is similar to mania, it is less severe.

While mania affects people’s ability to handle daily work and school activities and even affects their relationships, hypomania does not interfere with these aspects of a person’s life. Nevertheless, people dealing with hypomania still notice some obvious changes in their moods.

Depression

While experiencing an episode of depression, a person may feel deep sadness, a lack of interest in activities that used to find enjoyable, hopelessness, periods of too little or excess sleep, suicidal thoughts, and weakness or loss of energy.

Even though bipolar disorder is not a rare mental health condition, diagnosis is often challenging because the symptoms people exhibit vary.

Bipolar symptoms in women

Both men and women are equally diagnosed with bipolar disorder but the major symptoms of this condition very in both genders. Women with bipolar disorders may experience some other conditions such as anxiety disorder, migration, obesity, and thyroid disease at the same time.

They may be diagnosed much later in life than earlier, have milder episodes of mania, have about four of more episodes of depression and mania annually ( such high number of occurrence is called rapid cycling).

Women may also experience more depressive than manic episodes. It has also been discovered that women with the bipolar disease may relapse more often because of the hormonal changes they experience on a monthly basis because of mensuration.

Bipolar disorder in men

Some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder in men are similar to the symptoms in women. However, men may experience these symptoms somewhat differently than the female folks. Men dealing with bipolar disorder may be diagnosed earlier in life which is a good thing.

Men may experience more severe manic episodes and have issues with substance abuse. The tendency for men to act out during manic episodes is very high.

Men who have bipolar disorder are more reluctant to get help on their own compared to women which is one reason why they are more likely to die by suicide.

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Types of bipolar disorder

There are three major types of bipolar disorder: bipolar disorder 1, bipolar disorder 2, and cyclothymia.

What is bipolar disorder 1?

Bipolar disorder 1 is characterized by a minimum of one manic episode. Before and after that one manic episode, a sufferer might experience a hypomanic, or a major depressive episode. Both men and women are equally affected by this kind of bipolar disorder.

What is bipolar disorder 2?

People dealing with bipolar disorder ii, usually experience a major depressive episode that lasts a minimum of two weeks and a major hypomanic episode that lasts a minimum of four days. Bipolar disorder 2, is beloved to be more common in females than males.

What is cyclothymia?

People dealing with cyclothymia have episodes of depression and hypomania. The symptoms of depression and hypomania are cases of cyclothymia are less severe and shorter than those caused by bipolar 1 and 2 disorders.

Most people with cyclothymia usually experience only one or two months straight where their moods are stable.

When discussing with your doctor on your diagnosis, he or she will be able to identify what kind of depression you are dealing with based on the symptoms you are experiencing and the frequency of your episodes.

Bipolar disorder in children

The diagnosis or bipolar disorder is children remains controversial because children do not exhibit the same symptoms that adults do. The mood and behaviours of children with bipolar disorders may tally with the standards doctors apply in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in adults.

A lot of bipolar disorder symptoms that children experience in most cases overlap with symptoms of a plethora of other disorders that may occur in children, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Nevertheless, a lot recently, both mental health professionals and doctors have been able to recognize the bipolar condition in children. A diagnosis of the condition can help kids gain access to treatment.

However, reaching a diagnosis may take many weeks and sometimes months. A child dealing with this condition has to seek help from a professional specially trained to handle and offer treatment to children dealing with mental health conditions.

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Just like grown-ups, children dealing with bipolar disorder usually experience episodes of elevated mood. There will be times they exhibit characters that show they are very happy or excited about something but soon after the rush of joy and excitement, a period of sadness and depression follows.

It is very normal for every child to experience some mood changes. However, mood changes resulting from bipolar disorder are usually more apparent. These mood changes are more extreme than the typical mood swings children have.

Manic symptoms in children

Manic episodes that are caused by a bipolar disorder in children may include: difficultly focusing or concentrating on anything, having sleep deprivation problems and not feeling any form of tiredness despite sleep loss.

Others are readily changing the subject and talking too fast, feeling overly happy and putting up silly behaviours, having a short temper that often results of a serious outburst of anger, and finally experimenting with risky things or risky behaviours.

Depressive symptoms in children

Symptoms of depressive episodes in children that is caused by bipolar disorder include: Experiencing the feeling of guilt and worthlessness, sleeping too little or too much, frequently complains of headaches and stomach aches.

Others include acting very sad, eating too much or have an almost total loss of appetite, showing no signs of wanting to engage in any fun activity and also the constant thought of death or contemplation of suicide. Other diagnoses that cause behaviour change may not be bipolar disorder in children

Most of the behaviour issues your child might be having may be caused by another condition and not necessarily a bipolar disorder. Other behaviour problems including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder may occur in children dealing with bipolar disorder.

It is vital that parents work with their child’s doctor and document every unusual behaviour the child exhibits so that the doctor can easily reach a diagnosis of the true problem.

Once your child’s doctor can reach an accurate diagnosis of this situation, he or she can then proceed to prescribe the right kind of treatment that will help your child feel better.

Bipolar disorder in teenagers

Anger and mood changes are some behaviours that the parent of a teenager might find normal. This is because of the change in body features and the shift in hormones that these group of humans experience at that point.

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The most well behaved teenager can be easily upset or cranky once in a while and sometimes they may get so emotional. Nevertheless, the mood swings of some teenagers can be traced to bipolar disorder.

When it comes to bipolar disorder in teenagers, it mostly shows up during the late teenage years of early adult years.

Manic episodes in teenagers

Common symptoms of a manic episode in teenagers include: acting up and misbehaving, substance abuse, being excessively happy, thinking about sex very often, engaging in risky behaviours, being easily distracted, engaging in sexual activities, having sleep problems but showing no sign of fatigue or tiredness, and getting upset easily.

Symptoms if depressive episodes in teenagers

The depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder in teens include: feeling very sad and hardly getting excited senior anything, sleeping too little or too much, eating too little or too much, withdrawal from friends and other activities, and finally thinking often about death or contemplating suicide.

Early diagnosis of bipolar disorder in teenagers will help them get treatment and adjust to living a normal life faster.

Bipolar and depression

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder usually has two extends m extremes: either up or down. For you to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, you must experience a period of hypomania or mania which is the extreme “up” episode. During this up episode, a person will feel excited easily very energised aswell.

Then there is the feeling of sadness or sudden disinterest in things that excited you during your up moment. When this drop is high spirit happens you knife the extreme down is at play.

Nevertheless, not everyone with bipolar disorder who experience this symptom feels down enough to be called depressed. There are some people who will feel like a normal mood is depressing once their mania is treated because they miss that feeling of excitement.,

While bipolar disorder can cause a person to feel depressed, it is completely different from the mental health condition known as depression. While bipolar disorder causes both high and low moods, depression leaves a sufferer at an extreme low at all times.

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Causes of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder isn’t a rare condition, but it remains a mysterious condition to researchers and doctors. They are yet to figure out why some people suffer from bipolar disorder and some other people do not.

Some of the possible causes of bipolar disorder are:

Genetics

If one of your parents or any of your siblings has bipolar disorder, there is a great chance that you might develop it too. However, it is vital that you know this rarely happens as there are lots of people with bipolar disorder in their family yet they never developed it.

Your brain

The structure of a person’s brain can have an impact on the individuals risk for the disease. An abnormality in the structure or functions of a person’s brain may also increase the person’s risk.

Environmental factors

It’s not only what a person has in the body that can be responsible for bipolar condition. External factors can contribute as well and these external factors include:

1. Physical illness
2. Extreme stress
3. Traumatic experience

These individual factors can influence a person’s development of bipolar disorder. What is however more likely is that the development of this condition can be influenced by a combination of different factors.

Is bipolar hereditary?

It is possible for the bipolar disease to be passed down from parents to children. What studies have should that the chances of a child inheriting the condition form its parent, but it is not compulsory that this happens.

Not every person diagnosed with bipolar disorder has a family member dealing with the condition.

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