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 is actually two completely different disorders. Being Bipolar is to have a sudden shift in emotions, while DID is to have a switch in persona/personality.
Signs and symptoms of Mania (highs)
- Excessive happiness and joy
- Reckless behaviour (e.g. Drug abuse, unprotected sex)
- Rapid speech
- Sleeping difficulties
Signs and symptoms of Depression (lows)
- Sleeping too much/too little
- Lack of feelings of pleasure
- Frequent crying
- Suicide attempts/ideation
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 and if you have Bipolar 2, you may not notice your change in moods or think that your manic episodes are problematic. However, seeking professional help is still highly recommended.
Cyclothymic disorder: A milder version of Bipolar 2, consisting of low moods similar to depression, and high moods similar to Mania, but you do not fulfill the DSM-5 criteria for Major Depression Disorder or Bipolar Disorder.
Risk factors of Bipolar Disorder
- Family history
- Social/Cultural factors: Trauma, abuse, As of now, there are no concrete causes of Bipolar Disorder. However, it has been shown to be hereditary in that if someone in your family suffers from this disorder it is likely you might as well. Environmental risk factors such as trauma and abuse may also play a role in the onset of Bipolar Disorder.
The most common treatment of Bipolar Disorder is medication. Medication, however, is not a one size fits all and may take a few years to figure out what is best for you.
- Mood stabilizers
- To help you and your loved ones understand the disorder, triggers and how to better manage the episodes
- Family Therapy
- Encourage social and physical support to help you stick with the treatment plans and recognise warning signs of episodes
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Identifying negative core beliefs and unhelpful coping strategies
- Explore healthier coping methods and changing mindset
- Learn to manage the intense emotions and think more rationally
Watch how Becca fought and manages her Bipolar Disorder!
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