Are there moments when you are completely lost battling extreme emotions, when at one moment you are extremely energetic and have highly ambitious thoughts and other times you feel excessively drained and depressed. If you are constantly experiencing a drastic shift in energy levels, mood swings and activity, then you have bipolar disorder also called manic-depressive illness.
Signs of Bipolar Disorder
There are moments when we encounter extreme emotions, one day we are completely content and overly enthusiastic and the next day we are totally shattered about something. Such occasions occur because life itself is unpredictable, at one point we receive happy news and at another time a shattering news strikes. When individuals constantly experience mixed emotions of high-energy, happiness and depression, then it is a sign of bipolar disorder. The period of high-energy is called Manic episode and period of depression is called depressive episode.
The most important sign to watch out for in a person who is suffering from Bipolar Disorder is great variation in behavioral characteristics. At one moment a person will feel exceedingly happy and at the other moment sadness sets in. At one point thought process might move at a rapid pace, and at another time the same person will forget about the moments that have happened. At one point a person may do a lot of work at a time and later on feel depressed and have suicidal thoughts.
The symptoms of bipolar disorder are characterized into two types, Mania symptoms and depressive symptoms. A person with mania will experience his highest energy point and a person who is feeling his lowest will encounter depressive symptoms.
The person has extremely high mood swings, and the thought process reaches another level to an extent that the thoughts are unrealistic. The individual dwells in false beliefs and can even appear to be unrealistically over-confident.
You will notice signs of reckless behavior, the person will spend excessively, engage in endless substance abuse, have sex with multiple partners and the person also has no control over temper, and his views on certain topics will seem nonsensical.
The individual will overindulge in activities, to a much greater than required extent, and is not too interested in sleeping.
When you interact with a person who has or is showing signs of Bipolar Disorder, he/she will get distracted easily and may not pay attention to what you are saying.
The affected person no longer enjoys the pleasurable activities he/she enjoyed doing
He/she will sleep too much or get very little sleep
The affected person loses interest in life and has suicidal thoughts
He/she loses self-esteem, and feels hopeless and unworthy
The affected person experiences fatigue and lacks energy to do activities
He or she may eat too much or too little and is either overweight or underweight
He/she finds it difficult to concentrate, make decisions or remember certain important tasks.
He/she suffers extreme depression, or has no mood for anything
A person suffering from Bipolar Disorder has his periods of mania and depression and the episodes of extreme high-energy (mania) and intense low period (depression) can vary and it signifies the type of bipolar disorder a person might be suffering from.
Types of Bipolar Disorder:
The main characteristic of a person suffering from Bipolar 1 is the presence of one manic episode, and the affected person will constantly experience a surge of energy enabling him to have drastic mood swings and disruptive behavior.
A person with Bipolar II will exhibit more intense mood symptoms oscillating between high and low mood over a period of time. Here the affected person does not reach his or her uttermost energy levels.
In Rapid Cycling the affected person experiences more severe episode of bipolar disorder, with four or more than four depression or mania episodes in a year. This kind of bipolar disorder affects 10 to 20% of the population.
A person with Mixed Bipolar will experience periods of depression and mania at a rapid pace and you will notice these symptoms happening rapidly in a short span of time. This kind of bipolar disorder is different from other forms where you will notice moments of depression and mania over a period of time.
Cyclothymia also referred to as cyclothymic disorder is a mild mood disorder, where the affected individual suffers milder moments of depression and mania than a more extreme type of Bipolar Disorder.
What triggers bipolar disorder:
There is no scientific proof to determine the factors that trigger bipolar disorder, based on experimental observations, experts are of the view that the condition is caused by physical, social and environmental factors.
It is our lifestyle and the situations within it that trigger bipolar disorder, and the common cause is stress.
Bipolar Disorder is triggered whenever we faces these moments
When we are subjected to trauma such as emotional, sexual or physical abuse
Death of a loved one
Stress related issues with relationship, finance and employment
The physical factors that trigger Bipolar Disorder are
Disturbed sleep and physical illness
The disease worsens in people who excessively indulge in substance abuse such as drugs and alcohol.
There have been cases where Bipolar Disorder runs in families, if a family member suffers from the disease, there are chances of it passing on to relatives. However, until now there is no scientific evidence linking a particular gene with Bipolar Disorder.
Chemical Imbalance in a person with Bipolar Disorder:
Bipolar Disorder is caused from a result of chemical imbalance in the brain, the brains functions are controlled by neurotransmitters, that are brain chemicals that communicate information from one neuron to another. In a Bipolar Brain there is a chemical imbalance in levels of neurotransmitters like norepinephrin, dopamine and serotonin.
Helping a person with Bipolar Disorder:
A person with Bipolar Disorder feels extreme emotions, mood swings and energy levels, and when your mind and body is going through these extreme scenarios, it creates a feeling of being confused and lost. Only a person with Bipolar Disorder can perceive feelings of extremes.
An important point to note is the disease affects men and women in equal measure, and it starts between the ages of 15 and 25, and till today scientists and medical experts are unable to predict factors that cause Bipolar Disorder.
Life will seem confusing for a person with Bipolar Disorder, at one moment, he feels extremely lethargic, depressed, and has no interest in any kind of activity he once enjoyed, and at another moment he experiences extreme highs with the feeling of having the highest energy he possibly can, will indulge in extensive substance abuse, experience racing thoughts and so on. For another person an individual with Bipolar Disorder may appear under-confident at one point, and over-confident at another time.
A person with Bipolar Disorder requires abundant comfort and care, Ensure to sit with a person affected with the disease, spend quality time with him and be patient with his extreme behaviors and feelings. Ask, what is really bothering him and find out about his lifestyle and whether there is a sudden change in his personal or work life. He may have experienced disappointment with personal life with regard to losing a loved one or a broken marriage. Extend your support and advise him about his strengths and gradually encourage him to move on in life with a content frame of mind.
A person could have had a bad employment phase, he could have done something that could have majorly cost the company. Encourage him to slowly overcome the feeling of worthlessness and guilt by enabling him to re-discover himself, help him discover the life he once lead or desires to lead. For example if he had a passion for writing and has given it up, persuade him to start writing again. If he is a techie freak, recommend him to follow up on new app designs. If he is into fashion convince him to emerge with new unexplored designs. A person who is suffering from a terminal illness will enter into a state of deep depression, give him a sense of hope and spend time with him doing activities he enjoys.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder is treated with medication and psychotherapy, and there are also so many activities you can do to manage your condition. The activities will help a person manage manic and depressive episodes. When a person enters a high-energy manic phase it is important to chose an activity that is enjoyable, but not a task that enables a person to enter a state of mania. Instead of indulging in reckless activities like racy driving or endless spending spree, do fun activities which you enjoy like cleaning your house, writing a short story, poetry, crossword puzzle, browse through online riddles, reading through latest news and so on. The energy boost you get from these activities will make you attain a confident and positive frame of mind.
Exercise is an excellent therapy for a person with Bipolar Disorder, the activity helps to reduce high-level energy during the mania phase and it releases a positive boost of energy during the depressive phase and it also releases feel good hormones called endorphins. A continuous exercise process is known to have a greater effect in tackling the disease, like yoga, swimming, jogging than tennis where there is a still phase in between. You can go for a brisk walk and just relax or even walk with your dog.
If you are feeling lonely join an association or dance class
If you are a creative person, paint and develop intriguing craft designs
You can make a tasty and creative dish
Spend time dancing or with a musical instrument and develop new tunes and lyrics.
Bipolar Disorder can be managed well indeed, with medication and psychotherapy, the affected person can enjoy life to the fullest by just maintaining a content and positive frame of mind.