Bipolar Disorders: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

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Formerly called manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder, frequently associated with other disorders such as drug addiction or anxiety disorders among others.

According to the latest statistics, about 46 million people suffer from bipolar disorder worldwide, and the disease affects about 1% of those over the age of 18. In France there are 1,650,000 people affected.

If bipolar disorder is not diagnosed and treated correctly, it can have serious consequences for the patient and their environment.

How does bipolar disorder manifest?

the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is not so simple. Often the disease is confused with depression, schizophrenia or other anxiety disorders.

Symptoms vary according to manic, hypomanic, mixed and depressive episodes. People with bipolar disorder are unaware of their condition and perceive the first two phases of the disease as normal.

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The manic episode

The manic episode is characterized by hyperactivity and increased energy up to elation, for at least a week. This results in disproportionate movements and excessive joy. The patient has a sense of grandeur and he is unable to recognize his illness. He can also suffer from:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of attention
  • Excessive purchases
  • Risky sex
  • Etc.

If those around him resist mood swings, the patient may exhibit aggressive behavior, with bursts of tears and moments of sadness and depression. The bipolar person may commit dangerous acts, such as reckless driving, using unwanted substances, and breaking social rules and conventions.

The hypomanic episode

During the hypomanic episode, the patient presents with mood dysregulation, with hyperactivity associated with some symptoms common with the manic episode. This phase does not cause any alteration in social or professional life, nor psychotic manifestations, such as delusions and hallucinations.

The depressive episode

During the depressive episode of bipolar disorderthe patient has the following symptoms:

  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sadness and loss of self-esteem
  • Delusions and hallucinations
  • Slowing down of movements

The patient may have symptoms, such as a change in weight, appetite, sleep patterns, a feeling of heaviness, or recurrent suicidal thoughts.

The mixed episode

During mixed episode bipolar disorder, there is a rapid alternation between the depressive state and the manic state, which frequently involve hospitalization. All the symptoms described can be mild, moderate or severe.

These phases do not necessarily occur successively. Depression, for example, may precede the manic episode or vice versa. The depressive episode generally lasts longer than the manic or hypomanic episode, which does not exceed 2 weeks.

The causes of bipolar disorder

Biological, psychological, environmental and genetic causes can underlie bipolar disorder.

Hormonal imbalance : According to experts, the imbalance of norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood, can trigger bipolar disorder.

The genetic factor : the hereditary or genetic factor is also one of the possible causes. The likelihood that one or more people in the same family may have bipolar disorder is high.

Social factors : Traumatic events such as the loss of a loved one, the end of a marital or friendly relationship or other childhood memories, can also trigger bipolar disorder.

The stress : constant stressful phenomena can cause bipolar disorder.

How to treat bipolar disorder?

The doctor diagnoses the first symptoms and acts quickly, modifying the drug treatment appropriately throughout the different phases. Some of the drugs most commonly used in the treatment of bipolar disorder include anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and sometimes neuroleptics.

Psychoeducation is also one of the most used treatments. It promotes better management of the disorder and an increase in the quality of life. Bipolar disorder is a chronic disorder, the patient must be aware of his situation in order to be able to monitor the symptoms and improve his condition. Psychoeducation can be carried out during individual or group interviews. Be careful, psychoeducation cannot replace pharmacotherapy, which remains essential for the treatment of the disease.

Other cognitive behavioral therapies focus on identifying negative behaviors to isolate triggers and find solutions.

Family support has also been proven to prevent relapse. The family can, in some cases, identify the warning signs of mood swings.

If you think you have bipolar disorder or you have someone in your entourage who suffers from it, consult without further delay.

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