Understanding Bipolar Disorder And Its Nuances
Understanding Bipolar Disorder And Its Nuances
02 Feb 2024

Understanding Bipolar Disorder and its Nuances

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes intense and often abrupt changes in a person’s mood and energy. These phases, during which they experience intense mental states and emotions, are known as mood episodes.

People with the condition generally swing between mood episodes that are like opposite polarities on the spectrum of emotions and behaviours – hence the name bipolar. This makes understanding bipolar disorder challenging – a person may feel highly elated and energised for a while, then suddenly depressed and lethargic, often without knowing what caused the sudden change in their emotional state.

They also often experience periods of more stable, habitual moods in between these extreme episodes, during which they feel they are their normal selves once again. This may even make them feel as if the bipolar disorder never existed.

The intensity, duration and frequency of these mood episodes vary, depending on the individual as well as other contributing factors such as their current circumstances. However, in all cases, bipolar disorder can be severely disruptive of a person’s life, and cause considerable misery.

The good news is that the condition can be treated – if you are struggling with unstable moods, we at Samarpan Recovery can help. Understanding bipolar disorder makes it easier to better manage your mood swings – we show you tools you can use to lead a balanced, happy life.

Bipolar Disorder and Recurring Mood Episodes

People with bipolar disorder experience three phases to their condition.

  • Manic/hypomanic periods: these are characterised by feelings of great happiness, confidence, high energy, excitement, and reduced need for sleep. They are often also accompanied by heightened irritability.
  • Depressive periods: these induce a sense of great sadness, hopelessness, and fatigue. A person may isolate and lose interest in their normal activities. They may even be plagued by suicidal thoughts.
  • Neutral periods: most people who suffer from bipolar disorder also experience periods of respite from their mood swings, during which they are not subjected to extreme thoughts and Emotions.

Manic periods are almost always followed sooner or later by a depressive period, and vice versa – although not always immediately – and bipolar disorder is generally seen as a lifelong condition. Mood episodes may reoccur in fairly regular cycles, or follow a more erratic pattern. In some cases, people suffer only a few episodes in their lifetime.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Understanding bipolar disorder is difficult because its exact causes are still not fully known. Bipolar disorder frequently runs in families, suggesting the influence of inherited genes. The brain chemistry and function of a person is also thought to play a role. The triggers that often provoke mood episodes, however, are better understood. They include:

  • Extreme stress
  • Sleep deprivation over long periods
  • Life-change events – the loss of a loved one for example
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • Types of Bipolar Disorder

      There are three types of bipolar disorder. Treatment is most effective when you understand why type of bipolar disorder you have.

      Bipolar I disorder

      This is the most intense form of the condition. It is characterised by manic episodes that last a week or more, during which a person feels highly elated and often also irritable most of the time. High energy can make them sleep less, speak fast, experience racing thoughts and be easily distracted. Sometimes they may have hypomanic episodes, which are very similar but much less intense, and interfere less with daily life.

      Bipolar I is also characterised by major depressive episodes, which can last for two weeks or more. Alongside a deep sense of sadness and despair, a person may lose interest in doing anything, feel lethargic, worthless and ashamed, and may even experience suicidal thoughts.

      Bipolar II disorder

      People suffering from bipolar II have hypomanic episodes, but do not experience the intensity of manic ones. In fact, they often do not recognize their hypomanic periods as pathological, because the increased energy and drive can feel positive. They also generally return to normal functioning between episodes. The flipside is the opposite polarity of depressive episodes which inevitably arise.

      With bipolar II, since the depressive episodes are more intense and painful than hypomania, people may often develop other mental health issues, such as anxiety, or drug and alcohol abuse. Although both bipolar I and II are considered lifelong conditions, they can be successfully treated.

      Cyclothymic Disorder

      This is characterised by much briefer mood swings that can last only a few hours or a day or two. They are also much less intense. However, they can be frequent, and a person may have to live with unpredictable moods on a regular basis.

      Living with Bipolar Disorder

      Understanding bipolar disorder helps a person manage it and limit its impact on their life. Learning to recognize the triggers that lead to mood episodes is essential – examples of triggers are challenging situations, tension in relationships, and poor lifestyle.

      Regular sleep patterns are vital in managing the condition. Sufficient exercise, contact with nature and having a beloved pet have also been shown to help. A healthy diet that avoids excessive junk food, sugar, alcohol and caffeine helps keep body and brain chemistry more Balanced.

      Treating Bipolar Disorder

      Treatment for bipolar I and II generally involves medication to reduce manic and depressive symptoms. Psychotherapy is generally also recommended, and helps address the underlying issues that may make someone more prone to extreme moods. Cyclothymic disorder can often be treated without medication, although talk therapy is useful in allowing a person to voice the challenges the condition causes them.

      Whether you have been diagnosed as bipolar, or are concerned about your changing moods, the good news is that with proper self-care and appropriate treatment, you can enjoy a fulfilling, balanced life. At Samarpan Recovery, we specialise in understanding bipolar disorder and mental health concerns in general – our qualified, expert staff are here to help.

      Located in Churchgate, Mumbai – Samarpan caters to clients in a modern, confidential and well equipped centre – which is easily accessible. On-Line sessions can also be offered.

      For information and how to book an appointment we contactable on Phone or WhatsApp on +91 81809 19090.

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