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Bipolar Disorder Treatment: Symptoms, Classification, Diagnosis & Recovery

Bipolar disorder is a pychiatric disorder that causes fluctuations in a person's mood, energy, and ability to operate. Bipolar disorder patients go through strong emotional states known as mood episodes, which often happen over short periods of days to weeks. These mood swings are categorized as depressed (sad mood) or manic/hypomanic (abnormally joyful or angry mood).

Most people with bipolar disorder also have times of neutral mood. People with bipolar disorder can live full and productive lives when properly treated. Even those who do not have bipolar disorder go through mood swings. These mood swings, meanwhile, usually only last a few hours rather than days. Also, unlike during mood episodes, these alterations are usually not accompanied by the significant degree of behavior change or difficulties adjusting to regular activities and social interactions that bipolar illness patients suffer.

A person with bipolar disorder may experience difficulties at work or at school, as well as in their relationships with their loved ones. Three different diagnoses occur under the general heading of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar disorder frequently runs in families: 80 to 90 percent of those with bipolar disorder or depression have a family who also has bipolar illness or depression. Stress, irregular sleep patterns, illegal drugs, and alcohol can all cause mood swings in persons who are already vulnerable. Although the exact brain-based origins of bipolar disorder are unresolved dysregulated brain activity is thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance.

The typical age of onset is 25 years old. People with bipolar I disorder are more likely to have anxiety problems, substance use disorders, and/or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Compared to the general population, those with bipolar I disorder have a much-increased risk of suicide.

If a person is not treated, episodes of bipolar-related mania can last for between 3 and 6 months. Episodes of depression tend to last longer, often 6 to 12 months. But with effective treatment, episodes usually improve. Most people with bipolar disorder can be treated using a combination of different treatments.

Treatment is best guided by a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions (psychiatrist) who is skilled in treating bipolar and related disorders. You may have a treatment team that also includes a psychologist, social worker and psychiatric nurse.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition. Treatment is directed at managing symptoms. Depending on your needs, treatment may include:

  • Medications. Often, you'll need to start taking medications to balance your moods right away.
  • Continued treatment. Bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment with medications, even during periods when you feel better. People who skip maintenance treatment are at high risk of a relapse of symptoms or having minor mood changes turn into full-blown mania or depression.
  • Day treatment programs. Your doctor may recommend a day treatment program. These programs provide the support and counseling you need while you get symptoms under control.
  • Substance abuse treatment. If you have problems with alcohol or drugs, you'll also need substance abuse treatment. Otherwise, it can be very difficult to manage bipolar disorder.
  • Hospitalization. Your doctor may recommend hospitalization if you're behaving dangerously, you feel suicidal or you become detached from reality (psychotic). Getting psychiatric treatment at a hospital can help keep you calm and safe and stabilize your mood, whether you're having a manic or major depressive episode.

The primary treatments for bipolar disorder include medications and psychological counseling (psychotherapy) to control symptoms, and also may include education and support groups.

Bipolar can be managed, but it never goes away. There is no “recovery” from bipolar disorder. Just as there is no “recovery” from insulin-dependent type 1 diabetes. There is management, and there is definitely hope for a better life, but this is an illness of the brain that we have had from birth. In short, bipolar disorder may sound like a serious diagnosis, but with the right tools, supports and a commitment to be healthy, it is manageable for many. Not only can you live a normal life with bipolar disorder, but you can also lead a full and rewarding life.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the causes of bipolar disorder?

A. The actual causation of bipolar disorder is unknown, however various factors, such as: Biological distinctions: Bipolar disorder patients seem to experience neurological changes in their brains. Although the importance of these changes is not yet clear, they may eventually point to their root causes. Genetics: People who have a first-degree family with the disorder, such as a sibling or parent, are more likely to experience bipolar disorder. Researchers are looking for genes that might contribute to the development of bipolar disorder.

Q. What are the treatment modalities available for Bipolar Disorder?

A. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. A person during the illness may not know that he/she has a mood-related disorder. But, the changes in the person’s mood, behavior, and thoughts can be observed by others. Due to illness disturbances in routine, relationships, and workplace are often observed.For the management of the symptoms, hospitalization is recommended. Also as there are risks to self and others, inpatient treatment helps manage it better.

Q. What are the types of Bipolar Disorder?  

A. Bipolar I Bipolar 1 may be identified if you have gone through the following: At least one manic episode that lasted more than a week. Although not everyone experiences depression episodes, some do. Bipolar II If you have gone through both of the following, you can be diagnosed with bipolar 2: at least one episode of depression. hypomanic symptoms that have persisted for at least four days. Cyclothymia Cyclothymia could be identified if: Over the past two years or more, you've encountered both hypomanic and depressive mood episodes. The bipolar 1 or bipolar 2 diagnosis criteria are not met by your symptoms. Cyclothymia can occasionally progress to bipolar 1 or bipolar 2 disorder.