Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Helpful Treatment Approaches
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings. People who are bipolar may experience euphoric highs followed by devastating lows. They may also engage in dangerous behavior that can harm themselves and those around them.
The condition is not easy to deal with, but research is being conducted to introduce new treatments that help people with Bipolar Disorder as well as their loved ones to help treat and manage the condition. This article will review the latest developments.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes changes in a person’s mood, energy levels, and overall ability to function. These changes may seem sudden or irregular.People dealing with it may feel sad and hopeless one minute and then experience an abrupt mood shift that promotes euphoria. The ups and downs can affect energy, judgment, sleep, and the ability to think rationally.
Bipolar episodes may occur occasionally or several times a year. People with the disorder may experience minor symptoms between episodes, or they may seem perfectly fine.
While there is no cure, there are treatments which help make this condition more manageable.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The symptoms of bipolar disorder will vary depending on whether the individual is experiencing a manic or depressive episode. Here is an example of what you can expect.
● Depression and sadness
● Loss of interest in the once pleasurable things
● Insomnia or sleeping too much
● Change in weight and appetite
● Loss of energy
● Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
● Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
● Suicidal thoughts
Mania and Hypomania
● Abnormally energetic
● An exaggerated sense of self-confidence
● Excessive talkativeness
● Racing thoughts
● Easily distracted
● Poor decision making
Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are several types of Bipolar Disorder, including the following:
● Bipolar I Disorder is diagnosed in people who have had at least one manic episode followed by a hypomanic or depressive episode.
● Bipolar II Disorder is characterized by at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode with no manic episodes.
● Cyclothymic disorder can be diagnosed after two years (or one year in teens and children) of alternating hypomania and depressive symptoms.
● Other Types of Bipolar Disorder can be brought on by illness, medication, or substance abuse.
Bipolar Disorder Treatments
Bipolar disorder is not easy to live with, but several treatments are available to make it more manageable. Here are some to consider.
There are several types of medications that may be beneficial in the treatment of a bipolar disorder. These include:
● Antidepressants, which can reduce symptoms during depressive episodes
● Mood stabilizers, such as lithium, whichare often prescribed to control symptoms of acute mania
● Anticonvulsant drugs, which can provide mood-stabilizing effects.
● Antipsychotics, which can mitigate delusional thinking and hallucinations that may occur during mania episodes.
● Benzodiazepines, which may also relieve anxiety associated with bipolar disorder
Therapy is often introduced in the treatment of bipolar disorder. It is not uncommon for people with bipolar disorder to stop taking their medication. It is not typically a lack of understanding regarding WHY the medication has been prescribed in the first place; it tends to be more of a lack of understanding regarding the need to CONTINUE a course of treatment when the condition appears to have resolved, i.e. “it doesn’t seem like I need this anymore to manage my condition”
Talking to a medical professional will help the person understand how the medication is helping. It will also teach them coping mechanisms that reduce the occurrence of episodes.
Here are some of the types of therapy commonly used to treat bipolar disorder.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is based on the theory that negative reactions come from inside the person and are not due to outside stimuli. It identifies triggers and reactions to help patients better understand irrational and delusional behaviors. It aims to replace unhealthy behavior with healthy coping mechanisms.
Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT): IPSRT helps patients manage stressful life events that may be caused by disruptions in social and behavioral routines. It teaches them skills that will help them reduce episodes from occurring. It studies the medications they are using to ensure optimal dosages and types of drugs are being administered.
Family-Focused Therapy: Families are often brought into therapy to understand better the triggers that lead to manic and depressive episodes and assist patients in keeping them under control. They are familiarized with episode symptoms so they can tell when the patient is not taking their medication. It is crucial to include family and other close support systems when it comes to getting the patient back on track.
Bipolar disorder is not easy to deal with, but researchers are constantly coming up with methods that help manage the symptoms and assist patients with putting appropriate treatments into place. Seeking appropriate help, therapy, and treatment options assists bipolar patients to function better in the long-term as well as helps allieviate the stigma of such a diganosis. A combination of therapy, medication, and family support can decrease the occurrence of episodes and help patients live full and meaningful lives. With new advancements being made, it is hopeful that people dealing with this condition can continue improving their quality of life.