What Is Bipolar Disorder and the Current Therapies for It? | cannabisMD

What Is Bipolar Disorder and the Current Therapies for It?

What Is Bipolar Disorder and the Current Therapies for It

Over 2.6 % of the population in the United States are diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Approximately 86% of cases are severe. While the average age of diagnosis is 25 years old, it may also happen to teens and even children.

Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression, although this term has been largely replacced by the term “bipolar disorder”. It is a psychological disorder that causes a dramatic shift in a person’s mood.

People who suffer from this kind of disorder normally experience extreme high and low moods. The high mood is known as mania and the low as depression. Bipolar patients typically swing between mania and depression without warning.

We all suffer from mood swings every now and again. However, the moods caused by bipolar are different from the typical ups and downs that people usually experience. The moods caused by bipolar disorder can be very distressing. It may have a significant impact on the sufferers life and even their loved ones life.

Bipolar can make a normal working life impossible to maintain. It can put enormous strain on relationships and friendships. As a result, living with bipolar can be very lonely. Especially as the general population still know relatively little about the disorder.

Four Types of Bipolar Disorder

One of the common misconceptions that the general population have about bipolar is that there is only one type. This is not the case.

  1. Bipolar 1 is a mental illness in which an individual may experience one or more episode of mania (the feeling of being hyper aside from the usual).
  2. Bipolar 2 patients will usually experience at least one episode of severe depression and symptoms of hypomania.
  3. Cyclothymia is a chronically unstable state of mood which people experience hypomania and mild depression over the course of two years or more. People who suffer with this form of mental illness suffer from brief periods of unusual mood swings that last eight weeks or more.
  4. Bipolar Disorder ‘specified and unspecified” is when a person does not meet the criteria of showing symptoms of the three types of bipolar mentioned above. However, they still experiencing a period of clinically significant abnormal mood elevation.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The symptoms of bipolar may vary from person to person to some extent. These may include psychotic symptoms like delusion or hallucination. People who have psychotic symptoms are very often wrongly diagnosed as having schizophrenia.

Typical symptoms of bipolar include:

    1. Manic Episodes: These can last for up to a week or so. A manic episode has a severe negative impact on your ability to do your usual day to day tasks and activities. Severe mania is very dangerous if left untreated. People who suffer from manic episodes feel:
      • A sense of well being, no matter what’s going on
      • Uncontrollable excitement
      • Increased sexual energy
      • Racing thoughts
      • Complete inability to focus or concentrate
      • Feeling adventurous or overconfident
      • A feeling of enlightenment, like you can suddenly understand and/or see things that others can’t

      In addition to changes to how they feel inside, people suffering from manic episodes may display extreme behavioural changes including:

      • Being much more active than usual
      • Talking a lot, and quickly without making sense to others
      • Doing and/or saying inappropriate things
      • Sleeping very little or not at all
      • Being uncharacteristically rude or aggressive
      • Misusing drugs or alcohol
      • Spending money excessively and impulsively
      • Losing social inhibitions
      • Doing risky things such as driving while drunk
    2. Hypomanic Episodes: These are similar to mania. However, there are some differences between the two. People who suffer from hypomanic episodes can generally go about their day to day lives easily enough. These episodes last for a shorter time and they generally don’t include psychotic symptoms.
    3. Depressive episodes: Many people believe that depressive episodes are tougher and harder than manic or hypomanic episodes. However, the contrast between your high and low moods makes your depression seem even deeper. After the high, patients often feel as though they have hit rock bottom. A patient suffering from depressive episodes will usually feel:
      • Very down or upset
      • Very tired and lethargic
      • Totally unmotivated to do even the things that they normally enjoy the most
      • A total lack of self-esteem
      • No confidence whatsoever
      • A strong sense of hopelessness
      • Suicidal inclinations

As well as these major changes to how they are feeling, they will usually experience behavioural changes such as:

    • Not doing things they usually enjoy
    • Sleeping too much or very little
    • Eating too little or vice versa
    • Being withdrawn and avoiding family, friends and romantic partners
    • Self harming or attempting suicide

If you or someone you know is displaying a combination of these symptoms, it’s undoubtedly time to visit a medical professional. Suffering with bipolar can be an extremely difficult challenge, but thankfully treatments have vastly improved in recent years. Once a diagnosis is achieved, the treatment process can begin and relief from symptoms becomes possible.

Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Treatments for bipolar disorder are categorized into two groups; psychological therapies and medications. In the vast majority of cases, a combination of the two is needed for a holistic treatment plan. This combination will, more often than not, significantly improve the quality of life for the patient.

Psychological Therapies

CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is based on the idea that psychological illness is influenced by how a person thinks and responds to everyday life events. This therapy method focuses on helping the patient to develop a set of important skills.

These skills allow the him or her to combat negative thought patterns and reactions. It emphasizes the ability of the patient to manage and maintain their own mental health in a sustainable way. CBT has been proven to be highly effective for a vast range of mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder.

  • Family Focused Therapy generally involves the patients and their parents sitting together for twenty-one sessions. The goal of this therapy is to bring patients and families together, build compassion and empathy among all, and encourage open and honest communication.
  • Psychotherapy focuses on self-care and the regulation of stress. This therapy aims to teach the patient about the way their mind and their illness work.Understanding these things can make a huge difference to the patient and give them a sense of control where they have had none. It also allows the patient to act as their own caregiver to a large extent which can be very empowering.
  • Motivational Interviewing is a collaborative approach in which the therapist and patient become partners. Together, they identify and define sources of motivation and achieve personal goals. It can help clients suffering from bipolar disorder to overcome ambivalent feelings.

 

Medications

Unfortunately, psychological therapy alone is not enough to treat bipolar disorder in most cases. This means that some level of medication is also required. The most common medication used are:

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness which had been associated with much social stigma and shame in the past. Thankfully, this appears to be changing rapidly. Mental health, in general, is something which is becoming more and more understood.

Countless organizations and government bodies work tirelessly to assist those dealing with mental illness. There is more help than there has ever been before, but sadly it still isn’t enough.

For anyone who is struggling with their mental health, it is important to talk. Whether it’s to family members, friends or any one you trust, sharing your struggles is the first step towards finding a treatment that will work for you.

If you feel that you may be suffering from bipolar disorder or any other mood disorder and are not diagnosed you should consult a mental health professional. Mental illnesses can be very serious, especially if left untreated, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

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