What is Bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that manifests itself in a person through ups and downs in moods and energy levels. Many a time, it is confused with depression and sporadic mood swings. However, it must be understood that bipolar disorder is not a state of mind. It is a brain disorder - a mental illness which is long term. Till now, no permanent cure has been found for the same. What is it all about then...read on!
Bipolar disorder causes the victims to swing between two entirely different moods. Sometimes, they might be extremely euphoric and excited. Other times, they will be melancholy and dejected. As the word bipolar rightly indicates, there are two parts - mania and depression. Apart from mood swings, other symptoms include going on a spending spree, reduced need for sleep, increased feeling of sensuality and sexual drive, easy irritability, abysmal faith in oneself and so on. The disorder is fairly entrenched if there is an urge to commit suicide or lack of willingness to live. If you have any friends/relatives who keep talking about their lack of desire to live, then its time to rush them to a doctor.
How does bipolar disorder occur?
How does bipolar disorder occur? A lot of it has got to do with genes. Genetically, bipolar disorder gets transferred to the next generation. However, research also shows that it is not merely genetic. For, if one of the identical twins has the disorder, the other necessarily doesn't. Thus, it is a combination of genes plus other factors. Unfortunately, there are no medical tests that can detect bipolar disorders. No scan or blood test can help. The disorder can be diagnosed only through an understanding of the symptoms, family medical history, environment and so on.
The disorder can occur among children, adolescents, and the old. Among children, there is a chance that diagnosis is slightly more difficult because it may be confused with other typical behavior of children like hyperactivity due to lack of attention, consistent disobedience, irritability and so on.
Can bipolar disorder be treated?
Yes, it sure can. It is seen that those patients who obtain treatment achieve stabilization in their mood swings. They realize that they have a mental illness but cope with it well and lead normal lives. Treatment is done in two ways - medication and psychosocial therapies.
In the case of medication as a treatment, mood stabilizers (medicines with the ability to stabilize mood) are administered for a period of time. The frequency and duration of medicines would vary from person to person. The top most used medicine in this category is Lithium. It is safe to use Lithium even among children and adolescents.
The second type of treatment is the psychosocial therapy. Here, the patient is generally spoken to and counseling is done. While a physician would be able to prescribe the necessary medication, it would be advisable to take the help of a psychiatrist from the beginning of the treatment.
Before going in for any treatment, there needs to be complete discussion among the patient, his/her family and the physician/psychiatrist. For example, if a pregnant woman suffering from bipolar disorder takes mood stabilizing medicines, it might affect the to-be-born. Some of the side-effects may include weight gain, hair loss, lack of sexual drive and so on. When such adverse side effects can be seen, the patient needs to approach the physician and with the psychiatrist's advice, change the dosage and course of medication.
Other than medication and psycho social therapy, a third form of treatment can also be used for those with chronic disorder. This is called the Electroconvulsive therapy which can be used when medication or the psychosocial therapy do not work. It could also be used when the disorder is more severe leading to suicidal tendencies.
There is nothing to fear if you are affected with the disorder. All you need is speaking to the physician next door, taking your psychiatrist into confidence. Follow the prescribed medication and treatment; you will notice a world of a difference. If you are a person living with someone with a bipolar disorder, do not panic. Seek appropriate medical help and persevere. You will be the one they will derive strength from. Be sure that you provide continued support even after the treatment is over.