What Is Bipolar Disorder?

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a brain ailment that can cause extreme shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to operate. Patients with bipolar illness have extreme shifts in mood, known as mood episodes, which often occur at regular intervals of a few days to a few weeks. These swings in emotion can be either manic/hypomanic (characterized by excessive happiness or rage) or depressive. Patients with bipolar disorder often experience times of equanimity. If properly cared for, people with bipolar disorder can lead satisfying and fruitful lives.

Mood swings affect everyone, not just individuals with bipolar disorder. The good news is that these shifts in disposition rarely last more than a day. In addition, these changes are not often accompanied by the extreme behavioral shifts or difficulties adjusting to daily activities and social interactions that people with bipolar disorder show during mood episodes. A person with bipolar disorder may have issues in their personal and professional lives, as well as with their loved ones.

There are three subtypes of bipolar disorder, and they are known as bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.

Roughly 80%-90% of people with bipolar disorder also have a close relative with the disorder or another mood disorder. Those who are already susceptible to mood swings may be further impacted by factors such as stress, poor sleep hygiene, drug usage, and alcohol consumption. Although the precise neurobiological causes of bipolar disease are unknown, it is believed that a chemical imbalance leads to dysregulated brain activity. The typical onset age is 25 years old.

Individuals with bipolar I disorder (ADHD) often suffer from anxiety, substance abuse, and/or hyperactivity. People with bipolar I disorder are more likely to take their own lives than the overall population.

Extreme highs of euphoria and energy may coexist with extreme lows of depression, hopelessness, and lethargy in those with bipolar disorder. Between those times, most people report feeling typical. The extremes in mood that characterize bipolar disorder are sometimes likened to the “poles” of a magnet.

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Is There A Spectrum Of Bipolar Disorders?

There are many different manifestations of bipolar disorder.

Manic “up” periods that last at least a week or are so severe that they necessitate medical attention characterize those with bipolar I illness. It’s also common to experience extreme “down” periods that continue for two weeks or more.

While the highs and lows of bipolar II disorders are still unpredictable, they are less extreme than those of bipolar I.

When both manic and depressive episodes last for at least two years in adults or one year in children and adolescents, a diagnosis of cyclothymic disorder is made. The symptoms are milder than those of manic or hypomanic phases of bipolar illness.

Rapid cycling is not a subtype of bipolar disorder but rather a phrase used to describe the course of the condition for those who suffer from bipolar I or II. There must be four or more mood episodes each year for this to apply. Women are more likely to experience this type of illness course than men, and it can arise and disappear at any time over the course of bipolar disorder. Depression is a major contributor to rapid cycling, which increases the risk of suicide ideation or behavior.

Substance abuse can exacerbate episode frequency in those with bipolar disorder of any kind. When someone has a dual diagnosis, such as bipolar disorder and alcoholism, they need help from a professional who is familiar with both conditions.

Formerly known as “bipolar disorder not otherwise specified,” the terms “unspecified” or “other specified” bipolar disorder are now used to describe cases in which a person displays only a subset of the mood and energy symptoms that define a manic or hypomanic episode, or in which the symptoms may not persist long enough to be considered “episodes.”

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