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What Is Bipolar Disorder? Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors, Treatments And Prevention

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a complex mental condition that involves dramatic mood swings and uncontrollable behavioural changes. The disorder primarily affects the mood, thoughts and behaviours of a person. According to a study, bipolar disorder may affect around 1.5 per cent of adults. [1]

In bipolar disorder, a patient's mental state may shift anywhere between depression and mania. When a person is depressed, they lose interest in anything or feel extremely sad, and when they are happy, they will be extremely energetic or usually irritable.

In this article, we will discuss all the details related to bipolar disorder. Take a look.

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Causes Of Bipolar Disorder

The exact causes of bipolar disorder are still unknown as researchers aren't exactly sure what triggers the condition. Some of the factors which may be responsible for the condition may include:

  1. Environmental Factors: This could be one of the factors responsible for causing bipolar disorder. Some of these factors may include geographical location, past traumatic experiences and extreme stress. [2]
  2. Genetic Factors: A study has shown that in people with severe bipolar disorder, genetics is considered to be the main component. The schizophrenia gene is mainly being linked to the condition, meaning people with schizophrenia are often at risk of developing bipolar disorder. [3]
  3. Neuroanatomy: Dysfunction of certain brain parts such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus and amygdala can lead to the development of the disorder.
  4. Neurotransmitters: Dysfunction of neurotransmitters, that help transfer signals from the body organs to the brain and vice versa, can cause the condition. [4]
  5. Immunological: An increase of certain proteins like cytokines and interleukins is related to the condition. [5]
  6. Other factors: It may include hormonal imbalance, chronic life stress and other mental health conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Note: It must be understood that none of the factors mentioned above can cause bipolar independently as one or more of the factors together such as neurochemical, genetic and environmental factors interact at different levels and cause the condition. [6]

Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder

There are three main symptoms of bipolar disorder: mania, hypomania and depression. [7]

Some of the manic symptoms may include:

  • Indulging in risky behaviours like unprotected sex and spending sprees.
  • Feeling very high elated.
  • Having less or no need for sleep.
  • Having loss of appetite
  • Talking very fast about lots of things
  • Racing thoughts

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Some of the hypomanic symptoms may include:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Lethargic
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hopelessness
  • Lack of interest in activities which they used to enjoy earlier.

Some of the depressive symptoms may include:

  • Feeling restless
  • Difficulties in sleeping.
  • Talking very slowly.
  • Increased appetite
  • Losing interest in performing even simple day to day tasks.
  • Suicidal thoughts

Risk Factors Of Bipolar Disorder

Some of the risk factors for bipolar disorder may include: [8]

  • Genetics
  • Age, mean age is the early twenties.
  • Existing mental disorders like schizophrenia or eating disorders.
  • Childhood maltreatment.
  • Stressful life events.
  • History of drug abuse

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Diagnosis Of Bipolar Disorder

Some of the diagnosis methods for bipolar disorder may include: [9]

  • Clinical interview: It includes evaluating the medical history of the patient such as a history of bipolar or any other mental health condition in the family, along with the symptoms.
  • DSM-5: If a medical expert suspects bipolar, the symptoms are evaluated as per the criteria in DSM-5.

Treatments Of Bipolar Disorder

The treatment of bipolar disorder may vary from person to person depending on the severity. Some of the treatment methods may include:

  • Acute treatment: To reduce the symptoms instantly, combination therapy that includes usage of two or more medications, are given to reduce the symptom. Medications may include antidepressants, Lithium and lamotrigine. [10]
  • Clinical management: It includes lifelong management of the condition. Clinical management requires ongoing medications along with psychotherapy. [11]
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy: It includes therapies like talk therapy that may help the patient to think positively and how to manage the symptoms well.

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How To Manage Bipolar Disorder?

  • Learning to recognise mood swings and how to deal with them.
  • Maintaining a routine of sleeping and eating.
  • Staying in touch with your doctor.
  • Natural remedies such as fish oil and rhodiola rosea. They must be after consulting a doctor.
  • Joining a support group.
  • Learning how to deal with stress.

To Conclude

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is often underestimated until the symptoms get severe. Consult a medical expert for early diagnosis and treatment of the condition.