Bipolar disorder is the kind of condition that comes in disguise. This is because you cannot possible judge whether or not a person has this condition. However, it is a strong mental illness that not only causes sudden shifts in one’s mood but it goes beyond that as well. There are two forms of bipolar disorder: mania and depression (the high and the low). These two conditions are different from the usual mood swings and could be critical.
Bipolar disorder is spreading very fast, as more than 2.6% of American population is diagnosed with this disorder. The alarming thing is that more than 83% of the reported cases have been marked as severe or extreme. In this article, we are going to talk about the causes, symptoms and best treatments for bipolar disorder.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder vary from person to person and case to case. Sometimes, the affected person may show symptoms for only a short time period and sometimes they may stay affected with bipolar disorder for years, without any notable symptom. At an extreme stage of bipolar disorder, the person may experience psychotic symptoms. Psychotic symptoms may include the affected person seeing hallucinations or getting delusional from time to time. These extreme symptoms are a worrying signs because they actually depict the patient’s feelings.
One complication with the symptoms of bipolar disorder is that most often it is confused with schizophrenia. Mania is something which is worse than a depression and a person must have experienced at least 1 episode of mania or hypomania in order to be officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder. [i]The only difference between mania and hypomania is that hypomania is a bit milder and the person does not hallucinate in either of these conditions. Surprisingly, people with hypomania can get along really well in social functions requiring interactions with other people.
There is no known cause of bipolar disorder. Since this is a very common mental health disorder, doctors and researchers have been unable to find an exact cause. However, there are couple of things that could be able to cause bipolar disorder, according to the doctors.
First in line is genetics. Chances are that if someone in your family has bipolar disorder, you are more like to have it too. Researchers have found out that bipolar disorder can be passed out from the parents to child. This is because several researches have found a genetic link in people with the disorder.
Don’t panic, this is not a known cause. However, if your brain structure has a natural deformity or abnormality, your chances of having bipolar disorder are increased. [ii]
Besides something that is in your body, there is something else that has even more power to give you bipolar disorder. These are factors such as stress, anxiety and physical illness that make you more prone to bipolar disorder.
There are a lot of treatments for bipolar disorder and doctors would recommend any one of them as they see fit. We will take a look at some of these.
Medication: Probably one of the most effective but a slower method of treating bipolar disorder and ultimately stabilizing the patient’s mood. There are a few categories of medications that the doctors may prescribe and these include:
- Mood stabilizers that are best suited for manic or hypomanic patients, unless the doctor suggests otherwise
- Antidepressants are a great way to help the patient get over a depression episode
- Sometimes, the doctors may prescribe antipsychotics to treat a strong mood swing.
The thing to note here is that there may be several attempts in order to find the perfect medication that suits you best. As you start on a new medication, keep updating your doctor with any side effects you are experiencing. Do not start taking medications on your own or stop them on your own as manic or depression episodes may return. [iii]
Simply known as counseling or talk therapy, it is actually more effective than it seems or is presumed to be. It gives the affected person all the time and comfort to try and learn to cope with depression and manage their symptoms. Then there is cognitive behavioral therapy. In this kind of therapy, patients are taught ways to challenge negative thinking patterns. Among many other therapies, one more effective therapy is ‘family therapy’. Patients are taught ways to improve communication with their family and reduce stress in their relationships. [iv]
Such kinds of programs are very helpful for some patients as they organize group interventions and medical support for the patients with bipolar disorder. Moreover, some of such treatments also include psychoeducation awareness given to the patients on regular basis.
It is important to note that even though the patient might start getting better as a result of doing any of the aforementioned therapies, it does not mean they should stop them. The mood swings cannot just vanish forever, so it is recommended to keep the doctor aware of your situation before taking any action.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
Only recommended by the doctors in extreme cases as it involves passing short but strong electrical impulses to the patient’s brain. This is to cure severe depression or mania and it only recommended by the doctors when every other treatment has failed to work
Natural remedies for Bipolar Disorder
There are a number of natural remedies that may be helpful in bipolar disorder. However, it is recommended to do these remedies with the advice of your doctor. The reason being that these could interfere with any medications you are on.
Fish oil is known to have good effects for bipolar disorder patients. You could either take it naturally, or through OTC supplements. Besides that, the use of Rhodiola rosea plant is also helpful in treating moderate level of depression. Last but not the least, use of SAMe supplement may be helpful in curing mediocre level of mood disorders.