Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that requires long-term treatment. However, you can manage your symptoms with medication and talk therapy.
Educating yourself about the disease can help you advocate for yourself and understand your illness. It can also help you find support.
What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health illness characterized by extreme mood, energy, and behavioral swings. It can have a severe impact on your life and relationships.
It’s a long-term illness requiring ongoing treatment to check symptoms. Medicine can help keep your symptoms at bay, but therapy is also essential for helping you develop the skills you need to manage your moods.
Bipolar illness patients frequently experience episodes of mania and depression. Symptoms of mania include feeling happy, having lots of energy, and being impulsive and euphoric. They may also experience hallucinations and delusions (beliefs that aren’t true).
You can also have hypomania, which is less severe than a manic episode. During this phase, you’re usually very energetic and may have ideas that aren’t realistic or practical.
The symptoms of depression are different from those of mania and can be more severe. They may cause you to lose interest in things you used to enjoy, have trouble sleeping, or feel worthless.
Depending on your symptoms, you can have one of four types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic, or mixed disorder.
Experts don’t know for sure why some people develop bipolar disorder. They think it’s a combination of genetics and stressful life events. If your family has a history of bipolar disorder, you’re more likely to get it yourself.
Finding a support group is critical if you have been diagnosed with bipolar illness. For instance, experts like The Mighty can help you understand your condition better and feel more connected with others who are also going through the same thing.
Setting clear boundaries with someone with bipolar disorder is one of the finest ways to help them. For example, you might agree that you will only help if your loved one asks. This way, they know you aren’t trying to take over their life but that you can provide them with the care they need.
Another way to help is to ensure your loved one takes their medication as prescribed. Medications can control moods and other symptoms of bipolar disorder, including mania and depression. They may also be used to treat anxiety and other symptoms that may come along with the bipolar disorder.
Some people may need to try different medications before finding the right combination. In addition, if your loved one starts to experience side effects from their medications, it’s essential to inform their doctor immediately.
Some online support groups for bipolar disorder can provide helpful resources and encouragement.
Mood episodes are distinct periods of unusually intense emotion that differ from your normal moods and behaviors. They last for days, weeks, or longer. These episodes may include euphoria, irritability, and increased energy (manic episodes) or sadness, hopelessness, and low energy (depressive episodes).
People with bipolar disorder also experience less severe manic episodes called hypomanic episodes. These may be less intense but can cause symptoms such as racing thoughts and poor judgment.
In addition to mood changes, people with bipolar disorder may engage in dangerous behavior that could harm themselves or others. It could include increased impulsivity, poor decision-making, risky behavior such as drug or alcohol use, and unsafe sexual activity.
Stress, hormonal changes, and confident lifestyle choices can trigger these episodes. For example, shift work and extended, variable hours may be a trigger for some people.
Another common trigger is positive life events such as goal attainment or love relationships. Some people with bipolar disorder are especially “reward responsive.” They have a heightened tendency to respond to cues that reward behaviors, such as winning an award or getting a promotion.
Managing your symptoms and keeping track of what’s triggering your moods can help you and your healthcare provider identify and avoid triggers. It can also help you stay on track with your treatment plan.
There are several different treatments for bipolar disorder. Your doctor will decide the best type for you based on your symptoms.
Medications are often the first treatment option, as they can help control your mood episodes and keep them from worsening. There are several types of medications for bipolar disorder, including antidepressants, mood-stabilizing drugs, and antipsychotics.
A doctor may also prescribe anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, which can relieve the anxiety that can come with bipolar disorder.
Your doctor may also recommend psychotherapy, which can effectively manage mood and other symptoms of the disorder. In addition, it can improve your self-care, teach you how to recognize the warning signs of an episode and help you and your family to manage stress.
Your doctor may also recommend other treatments, such as a day treatment program or substance abuse treatment. It is essential if you have problems with alcohol or drugs.