Bipolar Disorder affects mood causing it to swing from one extreme to the other. The individual may experience episodes of low-lows of either depression, feeling low, lethargy or episodes of mania feeling high and overactive. During a depressive phase, you may have overwhelming feelings of worthlessness, which may potentially lead to thoughts of suicide. During a manic phase, people may experience very positive states of energy, happiness, creative ideas, spending large amounts of money (that you may not be able to afford) or exhibit impulsive behaviours. It is also common to not feel hunger or tiredness, talking very quickly and, being temperamental. Occasionally people can also experience psychosis. These mood swings can last for weeks at a time. However, symptoms tend to vary.
There is no definitive cause for bipolar disorder however, the following things can act as triggers for an episode:
- Extreme stress
- Overwhelming problems
- Life-changing events
- Genetic & chemical factors
Bipolar disorder can occur at any age and can be equally diagnosed in men and women.
In terms of treatment, people often take medication such as mood stabilisers. Often times people get an initial diagnosis of depression during their depressive phase before being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Learning to recognise triggers and signs of episodes can be helpful in the long-term and improve relationships with those around you. The pattern of mood swings varies from person to person; some can stabilise quickly whilst others have more acute episodes, requiring inpatient treatment. There are times when some people experience bipolar episodes a few times and stabilise while others have many episodes. It can be helpful to see a clinician who can help you recognise the symptoms and put in place strategies in to help manage those symptoms.