Not many people are aware of this, but there are different forms of bipolar. Today, we’ll be looking at some of them.
Individuals with Bipolar I experience depressive and manic episodes. During a depressive episode, they experience symptoms similar to that of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). This includes symptoms like fatigue, being unable to sleep (or sleeping too much), and feeling hopeless. It can even be severe to the point that the individual thinks about suicide.
During a manic phase, individuals are extremely active, creative, and what is usually referred to as “high”. They may also be easily irritated. It is during this period of time that they may experience delusions. Delusions are false beliefs – things that the individual thinks are real and true, even though they are impossible or proven to be untrue. For example, they may believe that they are angels who were kicked out of heaven, or that medication is poison that the government uses to read the minds of citizens. Of course, these are just some examples, and delusions experienced by different people vary in severity. There are many types of delusions, which you can read about at Psychology Today. They may also act very impulsively and make bad decisions (e.g. selling the house to start a business with no prior planning). Their mind is usually racing at this time, which results in jumping from topic to topic when they talk.
In Bipolar II, individuals experience depressive episodes and hypomania. Hypomania is a less severe form of mania. Individuals may feel very energetic, but they do not lose touch with reality – they can tell what is real, and what is not. However, it may still lead to poor choices that can damage relationships and careers.
Cyclothymia involves swinging from state to state as well, but to a less severe extent than Bipolar I and II. Like Bipolar II, these individuals experience hypomania as well. However, it is followed by a mild depression. In cyclothymia, the mood swings can occur very frequently, sometimes even several times a day.
Bipolar is most effectively treated when medication, therapy, strong social support, and healthy lifestyle changes are put together. Common medications involved in Bipolar are mood stabilisers such as lithium or valporate. Some anti-convulsant medication (that is, medicine meant for patients with seizures) may also used for patients with Bipolar. Many other psychiatric drugs from different medication classes can be used as well, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and benzodiazepines. SSRI’s are commonly used in treating depression, and benzodiazepines are commonly used in treating anxiety.
Sometimes, an individual may experience symptoms of both mania/hypomania and depression. This is called a mixed episode. They may experience anxiety, feel energetic, and feel bad all at the same time. This puts the individual at a high risk of committing suicide, and hence, should be kept under watch carefully.
- Vázquez, G., Kapczinski, F., Magalhaes, P., Córdoba, R., Lopez Jaramillo, C., & Rosa, A. et al. (2011). Stigma and functioning in patients with bipolar disorder. Journal Of Affective Disorders, 130(1-2), 323-327. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2010.10.012
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Fig 1. – http://i50.tinypic.com/2qvh7x5.jpg