Bipolar Disorder

What is bipolar disorder? 

  • Also called manic depression

  • Causes extreme mood swings 

    • Person may feel extremely high and happy (Mania or Hypomania)

    • Then may feel low and depressed

  • Depression leads to low energy and feeling gloomy plus sad whereas Mania makes you feel high, excited, bouncy, full of energy and euphoric. 

  • This affects lots of behavioural issues in general. 

  • It can be rare in patients or occur multiple times per year. 

  • It is a lifelong condition and does not go away through treatment however the effects/number of episodes can be reduced.

Facts

  • Most of the time bipolar patients are diagnosed with depression. 

  • Bipolar disorder begins to show in teens and in late teens. 

  • It can lead to suicide and self harm. 

  • ADHD and anxiety are symptoms in teens. 

  • Mood swings are large symptoms for teens usually ranging from high anger to tears. 

  • An average of 2.8% of the population of America has bipolar disorder however the numbers are always increasing. 

Causes

  • People who have the disorder have been studied to have changes in their neuro system.

  • Almost like it fluctuates frequently and then gets worse. 

  • It can also be genetic and if bipolar runs in the family the genes are always passed down. That's how it can be prevented early.  

  • Bipolar however is mostly just a problem with the brain and the way the brain functions and processes moods. 

  • It can also come from being in an extremely high and critical level of stress for a long period of time

Symptoms (Maniac) 

  • It can be hard to diagnose and is usually mixed up with depression and anxiety. 

  • These symptoms are some of the common ones for bipolar disorder and do not include the different stages of Bipolar. 

  • However here are some early symptoms and signs: 

    • Feeling overly happy or high for longer periods of time

    • Not needing to sleep due to over excitement

    • Talking very fast usually without thinking

    • Feeling restless and always racing yourself

    • Distracted most of the time

    • Overconfident with everything and always willing to try new things. 

    • Risky behaviour that may battle with health, money, eating or adventures. 

Symptoms (Depression)

  • Feeling sad, hopeless and lost for long periods of time. 

  • Not going out or seeing family or friends

  • Losing interest in life activities

  • Significant changes of appetite

  • Severe fatigue and no energy levels

  • Not being able to remember things, concentrate or make appropriate decisions. 

  • Both manic and depressive episodes and symptoms can occur at the same time. 

Treatments 

Treatments include medication and behavioral therapy. 

  • Since bipolar disorder sometimes leads to drug usage and abuse, substance abuse treatment is commonly used. 

  • Electroconvulsive therapy stimulates the brain when the patient is not awake. It is not common but is used in the worst cases of the disorder. 

Ways to prevent bipolar disorder early.

  • Pay attention to the signs and the symptoms listed above. Talk to someone and talk to an adult or friend. Tell them about it and how you feel. Usually a friend or family member will report the depressive episodes. 

  • Take medications as advised and stay away from alcohol, drugs and smoke. 

Stages 

Bipolar 1 

  • Maniac phases are clear and mood does shift extremely. 

  • Patients may end up in ER multiple times due to over excitement. 

  • Maniac episodes are only considered if they include shifts in moods and behaviours. 

  • Present most of the day and not only for short periods of time. 

  • Last at least a week in time. 

  • Stage 1 will mostly only highlight the highs of Bipolar Disorder. 

Bipolar 2

  • More common than other stages of bipolar disorder

  • Involves depressive episodes and less severe episodes. 

  • Harder to diagnose and notice in early stages. 

  • Mostly friends or people who spend time with the person will notice this. 

Cyclothymic disorder 

  • More rare and uncommon in bipolar patients

  • Less dramatic changes from high to low and from mania to depression. 

  • This usually lasts for over two years. 

Other types of this disorder can be related to drug usage, alcohol or due to a medical condition. 

How does it feel?

Bipolar patients make statements describing how they feel in these episodes of mania or vice 

versa. Here are some quotes from bipolar patients. 

“ It can be difficult to physically move. I tend to sleep 10, or even 12 hours a day.”  - Erin

“One giveaway is the extremes. Everyone self-esteem fluctuates somewhat, but if you are feeling on top the world, like you can do no wrong and are the best at everything one minute, and completely hopeless and self-flagellating the next, it's probably bipolar” - Sue


References

https://www.webmd.com/bipolar-disorder/guide/bipolar-disorder-warning-signs

https://www.healthline.com/health/could-it-be-bipolar-signs-to-look-for#diagnosis-and-treatment

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955

 

Resources by Asis Tung
 

Voices of Brain Injury

  • Instagram @voices_of_braininjury

Instagram @voices_of_braininjury

Bridging the gap between public and brain injury community through shared narratives.