Bipolar Disorder is a type of affective mental disorder that causes mood instability and results in feelings of extreme highs and lows (a.k.a Manic Depression). Bipolar Disorder can manifest in rapid switches from moments of happiness and excitement to times of hopelessness and despair.
Bipolar Disorder is commonly confused with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), but the two are different. Bipolar Disorder leads to sudden shifts in emotions, whereas DID causes switches in one's persona/ personality.
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
✽ Mania (Highs):
- Excessive Happiness and Joy
- Reckless Behaviour (e.g. Drug Abuse, Unprotected Sex)
- Rapid Speech
- Sleeping Difficulties
✽ Depression (Lows):
- Sleeping Too Much/ Too Little
- Lack of Feelings of Pleasure
- Frequent Crying
- Suicidal Attempts/ Suicidal Ideations
Types of Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar 1: More severe due to intense periods of mania. Manic episodes may be so intense that hospital care is required. Periods of depression may be hardly experienced with Bipolar 1.
- Bipolar 2: Less severe than Bipolar 1. Individuals may not notice their change in moods or think that manic episodes are problematic. However, seeking professional help is still highly recommended.
Risk Factors of Bipolar Disorder
As of now, little is known about the causes of Bipolar Disorder. However, it has been found that a family history of Bipolar Disorder increases an individual's risk of developing it. Additionally, environmental factors such as trauma and abuse are thought to play a role in the onset of Bipolar Disorder as well.
Types of Treatment
The most common treatment of Bipolar Disorder is medication. However, as the suitable classes and dosages of medication differ between individuals, it may take time to figure out the medication that works best.
- Family Therapy: Encourages social and physical support to help one stick with the treatment plans and recognise warning signs of episodes
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT): CBT involves identifying negative core beliefs and unhelpful coping strategies. It also teaches one to explore healthier coping methods and to change mindsets. Therapists also help individuals learn to manage their intense emotions and thoughts.
- In general, psychotherapy will also include some form of education, to help individuals and their loved ones better understand the disorder, triggers, and how to better manage the episodes.