6 facts about bipolar disorder that you should know

Depressive moods, mania attacks and other things about the condition you never knew about.

Mental health-Bipolar disorder-THS

While we talk quite often about depression, it is also important that other mental health issues get equal prominence regarding awareness. Like depression, another condition that needs our attention is bipolar disorder. Often we mistake symptoms of bipolar disorder for excessive stress or misinterpret it with our daily ups and downs. Today we are trying to demystify some of the common myths and reinstate the facts about the condition with Dr Milan Balakrishnan, consultant psychiatrist, Bombay Hospital and Medical Research Centre, founder www.mindcares.com. Here are a few things about bipolar disorder that you need to know.

1. Bipolar disorder is not just about mood swings

Bipolar disorder is not just the general ups and downs of moods that you experience in your day-to-day lives. It is not about feeling low and irritated after travelling three hours to reach office and coming out of it after having a cold coffee and hearty chat with a colleague. Bipolar disorder is classified as a class of mood disorders where a person feels depressed for a minimum of two weeks followed by a mania episode which constitutes of elevated energy and high spirit for at least seven days at a stretch. In between two episodes the person might not show any symptoms of the condition. Even when the person is devoid of the symptoms the extreme moods are capable enough to wreck havoc in one’s normal lifestyle and daily activities. Here are four causes of bipolar disorder that you should know.

2. Bipolar disorder is not easy to diagnose as the symptoms vary from one extreme to other and often goes unnoticed.

More than the person who is suffering from the disorder, it is easier for a caregiver or a family member to identify the symptoms, provided that they know about them. Often people suffering from this condition have problems channelizing their thoughts.

The symptoms of a manic episode constitute of high energy levels, being in high spirits, having innumerable ideas or thoughts (where nothing gets executed). During the mania episode, a person might not even have the urge to sleep but will be driven with energy to achieve all those crisscrossed ideas that are generating in the brain. However, the red flag is that none of the ideas get to see the light of day due to shifting focus and lack of concentration. This should be a sign for a caregiver to worry. One should know that inability to put ideas into action is not just a result of work stress, especially when followed by a depressive episode later. Here are eight modern-day symptoms of depression that you should know.

3. Even during the mania episodes the thoughts that one experiences are not destructive

When the mind is bombarded with too many thoughts and ideas, they don’t appear to be destructive, at least not on the face of it. A person might want to multitask and feel energetic enough to take control over the situation. However, nothing materialises out of it. The person’s thoughts jump from one idea to another with little room for execution or better-coping skills. This is called mania, a subcategory of bipolar disorder. It presents with sporadic behaviour in people like taking an impromptu decision to start a business or to go on an unplanned trip to unwind. The thoughts or ideas are not destructive, but they are followed by an episode of low, later. A lesser extreme version is hypomania, characterised by less need of sleep, high energy levels, ranging ideas with the requisite productive output. However, hypomania can manifest as a subtle symptom of the bipolar disease.

4. There can be specific triggers that can provoke an extreme mood (depressive or manic episode)

Most of the time the underlying causes for bipolar disorder is genetic or happen due to some biochemical changes in the brain. However, stress, substance abuse, lack of coping skills could lead to an episode.

5. Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition and needs prolonged attention

The challenge with this condition is not many people come to terms with the symptoms easily. It is either a high point or a low note. People who do come forward to seek help visit a therapist or a psychiatrist while facing a depressive episode. Often they are escorted by a caregiver. Especially, if the depressive episode is followed by a mania episode, it becomes easy to identify. Some people need long time therapy and medication to manage the condition. It depends on the diagnosis. Some people might face one episode and others might have a recurrence of it. So a treatment modality is designed accordingly.

6. Children can also suffer from bipolar disorder

While most think that mental health conditions are limited to adults, the fact is even children can suffer from the same. Bipolar disorder doesn’t differentiate between the young and old. Children do fall prey to this condition. Most often hyperactivity is a symptom that points to this condition but often mistaken as growing up phase. Parents suffering from bipolar disorders should be more cautions with their child. Often a child presents with the symptoms in the productive years and timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial.

More:Researchers Pinpoint Area of Brain Linked to Bipolar Disorder

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