A bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression. It is a serious mental illness that can lead to risky behavior, damaged relationships and careers, and even suicidal tendencies if it’s not treated. It is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks, associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

Fig. 1.1: Facial representation of bipolar moods (source: www.ipredator.co)

There are various types of bipolar disorder, depending on the moods range from periods of extremely “up,” elated, and energized behavior (known as manic episodes) to very sad, “down,” or hopeless periods (known as depressive episodes). Less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes. Types of the Bipolar disorder includes;

  1. Bipolar I disorder which involves periods of severe mood episodes from mania to depression.
  2. Bipolar II disorder which is a milder form of mood elevation, involving milder episodes of hypomania that alternate with periods of severe depression.
  3. Cyclothymic disorder describes brief periods of hypomanic symptoms alternating with brief periods of depressive symptoms that are not as extensive or as long-lasting as seen in full hypomanic episodes or full depressive episodes.
  4. “Mixed features” refers to the occurrence of simultaneous symptoms of opposite mood polarities during manic, hypomanic or depressive episodes. It’s marked by high energy, sleeplessness, and racing thoughts. At the same time, the person may feel hopeless, despairing, irritable, and suicidal.
  5. Rapid-cycling is a term that describes having four or more mood episodes within a 12-month period. Episodes must last for some minimum number of days in order to be considered distinct episodes.

According to Markus MacGill (2018), Some symptoms of bipolar disorder are the same in men and women, while others are more gender-specific. Symptoms that are common in both men and women include:

  1. High or irritated mood
  2. More energy and greater goal-driven activity
  3. Elevated self-esteem or grandiosity
  4. Reduced sleep
  5. Higher than usual frequency of talking
  6. Rapid speech flow and flights of ideas or racing thoughts
  7. Being easily distracted
  8. Regular impulses for pleasurable experiences, such as shopping or sex, without understanding the consequences.

Other symptoms of depression include feeling guilty without good reason and concentration difficulties. Some people experience sleeping problems or wake up unusually early. Research has suggested that women with bipolar disorder are more likely to have mainly depressive episodes. Men are more likely to experience a “mixed state” with depression and mania both occurring.

This disorder needs special medications which may be combined with psychotherapies for effectiveness. Medications generally used to treat bipolar disorder include:

  1. Mood stabilizers
  2. Atypical antipsychotics
  3. Antidepressants

While some psychotherapy treatments used to treat bipolar disorder include:

  1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  2. Family-focused therapy
  3. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
  4. Psychoeducation.

In conclusion, a bipolar disorder which is a disorder characterized by a change of mood cannot be easily spotted, which makes it a severe illness. Although discovering the symptoms and speaking to a specialist as well as the necessary diagnosis can be employed in detecting this disorder. When treatment is done with a combination of medication and psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”), effective recovery can be obtained.


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