Bipolar disorder, often also called manic depression, bipolar affective disorder or affective psychosis, is a severe mental illness the distinguishing feature of which is waves of mood and energy changes that may range from very high to extremely low levels. The changes in mood with time grow into an obstacle for a person’s ability to lead normal social life and to fulfill the work.
The extreme of elevated mood is also referred to as mania or hypomania that appears through feelings of enormous happiness, endless energy and sometimes exceptional irritation. The lowest mood levels of bipolar disorder are widely known as depressions which can follow to suicides or serious self-damage.
What are the Symptoms?
The distinctive feature of the illness is that the symptoms of bipolar disorder differ immensely from one patient to other and are not particularly simple to identify. But we can certainly speak about the main symptom which is basically the abnormalities of mood, unexpected changes from cheerful states into grievance and melancholy. While it is habitual to have ups and downs of mood in everyday life, the abnormal mood fluctuation has nothing to do with that. People who suffer from this decease very often experience changes in the processes of thinking and bodily functions. People encounter sleeplessness, loss of appetite and motivation, decreased concentration and memory and decline of the overall level of energy.
Bipolar disorder symptoms are said to be induced by a defect in the brain segment that regulates mood swings. The states of joy and depression follow each other like suitcase on a conveyor belt. The defining characteristic of bipolar disorder is mania and its extreme onsets - hypo-mania on the one side and depression on the other. During long-lasting periods of mania, that can sometimes continue for a week, individuals experience elevated mood, euphoric states, they are full of energy and strength, they can speak exceptionally fast and with passion. People in such state often display risky behavior, they act impulsively, moreover they lack sleep and rest, in worst cases people are apt to psychosis, when they encounter the discord with reality.
Among other bipolar disorder symptoms that can describe manic states there are delusions and hallucinations due to sleep disturbances, irritability and permanent excitation. Depressive periods of the illness can be described by such symptoms of bipolar disorder as continuous feeling of sadness, anxiety, isolation, rage, hopelessness and culpability. Patients undergo through loss of appetite, weariness and weakness, apathy to the outer world accompanied with suicidal thoughts, loneliness and permanent state of pain, often without a sensible reason. Bipolar disorder treatment is strongly recommended in such cases, because without it the extreme mood states may last up to 3 to 6 months.
Causes of Bipolar Disorder
The problem of the illness it that the biological regulations that are responsible for the mod swings are not well studied. Every individual may develop the disorder due to different reasons, while the precise mechanism of the illness remains uncertain. There are several groups of possible causes:
- Genetic causes
Genetic causes are said to comprise from 60% to 80% of the risk, which means that bipolar disorder is primarily a hereditary disease. The studies have shown that if you have a family member or a close relative suffering from bipolar disorder, the danger you may develop the illness is ten times higher.
- Physiological causes
Bipolar disorder may be caused by abnormal structure or function of brain circuits, especially those in prefrontal and limbic regions.
- Environmental causes
The recent research proves that environmental influence such as interpersonal links and life events are crucial not only for the development of bipolar disorder, but also for the repeated onsets of the illness.
- Neurological causes
Not very commonly bipolar disorder may become a consequence of such neurological injuries as stroke, brain traumas, epilepsy or even HIV infection
Bipolar Disorder Treatment & Prevention
The means of bipolar disorder treatment include first of all psychotherapy and various medications stabilising mood. Medication is not only method of cure, but also a major way of prevention. Doctors often prescribe medications that decrease the likelihood of relapse. In severe cases the bipolar disorder treatment may be required to be held in hospital.
The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is practically impossible until adolescence or adulthood. The procedure of diagnosis includes self-observations of a patient, behavior abnormalities noted by family members and results of intentional medical monitoring by nurses, psychiatrist, psychologists and others. The specifics of the illness is that there are no special bipolar disorder tests, but various medical tests and exams may be held in order to exclude other psychiatric illnesses.
After the complex process of diagnosis, the bipolar disorder tests data are gathered and the diagnosis is confined as a rule to one of several types of bipolar disorder.