Bipolar Disorder

A mental health disorder characterized by frequent mood shifts and constant fluctuations in energy and activity levels. Bipolar disorder is fairly complex and so with the right information and help, can be treated effectively. 

Book Therapy

Postpartum depression is a common and treatable condition, and seeking professional help can make a significant difference in overcoming its challenges. With the support of specialists, you can navigate this phase with effective treatments, ensuring a healthier and more fulfilling journey through parenthood.

Let us help you out!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
  • Elevated or irritable mood
  • Increased energy and activity levels
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts or rapid speech

  • Genetic Factors
  • Neurochemical Imbalances
  • Brain Structure and Function
  • Environmental Triggers

  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy)
  • Medications
  • Self-management strategies
  • Lifestyle habits

  • Psychiatry
  • Psychology
  • Therapy

Our Professionals in Bangalore

Schedule a free screening with our experts

Take the first step
Here's everything else you need to know about
Bipolar Disorder

What is Bipolar Disorder?

If you're reading this, chances are you're either curious about bipolar disorder or navigating your own journey with it. Facing the ups and downs that come with bipolar disorder can be overwhelming. But what is this rollercoaster ride of mood shifts that affect almost 2% of the population? 

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme and fluctuating shifts in mood, energy levels, and activity levels. 

It’s easy to assume having Bipolar Disorder just means that the person suffering from it has unnaturally frequent mood shifts, but it’s a lot more complicated than that. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience two distinct phases known as manic episodes and depressive episodes, which can last for days, weeks, or even months. During manic episodes, individuals may exhibit heightened energy, euphoria, increased talkativeness, and a decreased need for sleep. On the other hand, depressive episodes are marked by persistent sadness, lack of interest in activities, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

While bipolar disorder can be challenging to navigate, it is essential to emphasize that effective treatment options exist. With the right combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle modifications, individuals with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. It is crucial to remember that seeking help from qualified healthcare professionals is a vital step towards understanding and addressing bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms:

Before we begin, let’s look into two symptoms that are common in bipolar disorders. 

Manic Episodes

Individuals with bipolar disorder experience two distinct phases known as manic episodes and depressive episodes. Manic episodes are quite common in regards to bipolar I disorder. In order to be diagnosed with it, you must have experienced at least one manic episode for at least a week, either with a depressive episode or without one.

Mania is when a person experiences a dramatic change in emotions, thoughts, energy, talkativeness and activity levels. The individual also experiences excessively elevated or irritated moods. These behavioral changes will also be easily understood by others. People with bipolar II disorder experience hypomania instead, which is a less severe form of mania and does not last as long as a manic episode.

What happens during a manic episode can not be predicted but could mostly involve the individual indulging in activities that cause them harm financially, socially or even physically. They may also develop occasional psychotic symptoms like delusions and hallucinations. Which is why it can be difficult to distinguish BPD from other disorders like schizophrenia.

Depressive Episodes

Just like the name suggests, during a depressive episode the individual will experience a depressed mood and/ or a loss of interest in most activities. This could make the person feel constantly fatigued, change their appetite and even make them feel worthless and hopeless.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder are characterized by alternating episodes of mania or hypomania and depression. The specific symptoms and their severity can vary depending on the type and stage of the mood episode. Here are the key symptoms associated with bipolar disorder:

Manic Episode Symptoms

The frequency of manic or hypomanic episodes in individuals with bipolar disorder can vary significantly. While some may encounter these episodes frequently throughout their lifetime, others may only experience them infrequently. The symptoms include:

- Elevated or irritable mood

- Increased energy and activity levels

- Decreased need for sleep

- Racing thoughts or rapid speech

- Grandiosity or inflated self-esteem

- Impulsivity and engaging in risky behaviors

- Increased goal-directed activities

- Poor judgment and difficulty concentrating

During a manic episode, individuals often lack awareness of the negative consequences of their behaviors. It is important to note that bipolar disorder carries the risk of suicide, which can occur not only during depressive episodes but also during manic episodes.

In cases where a person is undergoing an extremely intense manic episode, particularly if they are experiencing hallucinations and delusions, hospitalization may be necessary to ensure their safety as well as the safety of others.

Hypomanic Episode Symptoms

Certain individuals experiencing bipolar disorder may exhibit less severe symptoms resembling mania, referred to as hypomania. During a hypomanic episode, one may feel an elevated sense of well-being and achieve a heightened level of productivity. People with hypomania often demonstrate effective functioning in social and occupational settings.

It is common for individuals experiencing hypomania to not perceive any issues with their mental state. However, their family and friends may observe noticeable mood swings and fluctuations in their level of activity, finding them atypical compared to their usual behavior. Following a hypomanic episode, a person may subsequently experience a period of intense depression.

The symptoms are:

- Similar to manic episode symptoms but less severe

- Increased productivity or creativity

- Heightened sociability

- Possible involvement in risky behaviors

Depressive Episode Symptoms

The symptoms of depressive episodes are very similar to the ones of major depression. They include:

- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness

- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities

- Changes in appetite and weight (either increased or decreased)

- Sleep disturbances (insomnia or excessive sleep)

- Fatigue or loss of energy

- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt

- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions

- Thoughts of death or suicide

Mixed Episode Symptoms

A mixed episode combines symptoms of both mania and depression. In such episodes, individuals experience the typical negative emotions and thoughts associated with depression, while also feeling agitated, restless, and highly energized.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder:

While the precise origins of bipolar disorder remain incompletely comprehended, research indicates that its development is likely influenced by a blend of genetic, biological, and environmental elements. The following factors are thought to be involved in its etiology:

1. Genetic Factors: Bipolar disorder tends to run in families, indicating a genetic predisposition. People with a family history of bipolar disorder are at a higher risk of developing the condition. However, having a family history does not guarantee that an individual will develop bipolar disorder.

2. Neurochemical Imbalances: Imbalances in certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, are thought to be involved in bipolar disorder. These chemicals help regulate mood, and disruptions in their functioning can contribute to mood instability.

3. Brain Structure and Function: Studies have shown that individuals with bipolar disorder may have differences in the structure and functioning of certain brain regions involved in emotional processing, impulse control, and mood regulation. These differences can impact the way the brain responds to stress and emotional stimuli.

4. Environmental Triggers: Certain environmental factors can trigger or contribute to the onset of bipolar disorder in individuals who are genetically predisposed. Stressful life events, such as trauma, loss, or significant life changes, can play a role in triggering mood episodes.

These causes are being continually researched by scientists in order to determine the correlation between these symptoms. It will lead to a better understanding of how it could be prevented and how it can be treated.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are several types of bipolar disorder, each characterized by distinct patterns of mood episodes. The main types include:

Bipolar I Disorder

This is the most severe form of bipolar disorder. It is characterized by the presence of manic episodes that last for at least one week or require immediate hospitalization. Depressive episodes may also occur, but are not essential for a diagnosis. It can last for at least two weeks. Some individuals with bipolar I disorder may experience mixed episodes, which involve simultaneous symptoms of mania and depression.

Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II disorder is characterized by recurring episodes of major depression and hypomania. Individuals with bipolar II disorder do not face a full manic episode, and is rather seen in the case of bipolar I disorder. Hypomania is a milder form of mania, marked by a distinct period of elevated mood and increased energy that lasts for at least four days. Unlike full-blown mania, hypomania does not typically result in severe impairment or require hospitalization. On the other hand, bipolar II is considered to be more debilitating as it can cause chronic depression.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is a milder and chronic form of bipolar disorder. People with cyclothymic disorder experience numerous periods of hypomanic and depressive symptoms that last for at least two years. However, the symptoms are not as severe as those observed in bipolar I or II disorder.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar Disorders 

These categories are used when a person's symptoms do not fit the specific criteria for bipolar I, II, or cyclothymic disorder but still involve significant mood disturbances.

Diagnosis and Treatment

How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

The process of diagnosing bipolar disorder involves the use of various tools and assessments by healthcare providers. These may include:

1. Physical exam: A thorough examination of your physical health, which may involve checking for any underlying medical conditions.

2. Medical history: Your healthcare provider will inquire about your symptoms, experiences, lifetime history, and family history, aiming to gather comprehensive information.

3. Medical tests: Blood tests and other medical tests may be conducted to exclude other potential causes of your symptoms, such as hyperthyroidism.

4. Mental health evaluation: This evaluation can be performed by your healthcare provider or may involve a referral to a mental health specialist like a psychologist or psychiatrist.

To receive a bipolar disorder diagnosis, it is necessary to have experienced at least one episode of mania or hypomania. Mental health professionals utilize the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to determine the specific type of bipolar disorder a person may be experiencing.

During the evaluation, your mental health provider will assess the pattern of symptoms and the extent to which they impact your life during the most severe episodes.

People with bipolar disorder are also more likely to have co-occurring mental health conditions, including anxiety, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders. Consequently, healthcare providers may face challenges in correctly diagnosing bipolar disorder, particularly since memory impairment during manic episodes can hinder the individual's recollection of their experiences.

To ensure an accurate diagnosis, it is crucial to provide a comprehensive and honest account of your symptoms and experiences when discussing them with your healthcare provider. Involving a trusted loved one who can provide additional details about your mental health history can also be beneficial during these discussions.

How is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Treatment can be highly beneficial for individuals with bipolar disorder, even those with severe forms of the condition. A comprehensive and effective treatment plan typically combines the following therapies:

1. Psychotherapy (talk therapy): Engaging in psychotherapy sessions can provide valuable support and guidance. Therapists help individuals develop coping strategies, improve problem-solving skills, and manage their emotions.

2. Medications: Pharmacological interventions, prescribed by healthcare professionals, play a vital role in managing bipolar disorder. Medications may include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants, depending on the specific needs of the individual.

3. Self-management strategies: It is essential to develop self-management strategies, such as education about the condition and recognizing early warning signs of episodes or triggers. These strategies empower individuals to take proactive steps to prevent or minimize the impact of mood episodes.

4. Lifestyle habits: Incorporating helpful lifestyle habits can complement treatment. Regular exercise, yoga, and meditation, while not substitutes for professional care, can contribute to overall well-being and support the management of bipolar disorder.

5. Other therapies: In cases where medication is ineffective or rapid control of symptoms is necessary, additional therapies like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be recommended.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, and thus, treatment should be approached as a lifelong commitment. It may take time, often several months to years, to find the most suitable and comprehensive treatment plan in collaboration with your healthcare provider. While this journey can be discouraging at times, it is crucial to persevere and continue with treatment.

Episodes of mania and depression tend to recur over time, but between episodes, many individuals with bipolar disorder experience periods of stability. However, some people may still have lingering symptoms. Long-term and consistent treatment is essential for effectively managing these symptoms.

If you have other co-occurring mental health conditions, such as anxiety or ADHD, the treatment process can become more complex. Certain medications prescribed for these conditions, like antidepressants or stimulants, may worsen symptoms of bipolar disorder or potentially trigger manic episodes. Despite these challenges, it is important to remain committed to finding a personalized treatment plan that addresses all your needs.

Remember, with perseverance and the right treatment approach, it is possible to effectively manage bipolar disorder and lead a fulfilling life.

Coping with Bipolar Disorder:

Types of Therapy Used To Treat Bipolar Disorder

Psychotherapy or talk therapy is an effective component of bipolar disorder treatment. It involves various techniques aimed at helping individuals identify and modify troublesome emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Working with a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, can provide valuable support, education, and guidance for both the individual and their family.

Different types of therapy are available for bipolar disorder, including:

1. Psychoeducation: This form of therapy focuses on providing comprehensive knowledge about the condition and its impact on an individual's life. By understanding bipolar disorder better, individuals and their loved ones can improve their management and coping strategies.

2. Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT): IPSRT helps individuals enhance their mood stability by recognizing and aligning with their biological and social rhythms. It emphasizes techniques to improve medication adherence, manage stressful life events, and reduce disruptions in daily routines. IPSRT equips individuals with skills to protect themselves from future manic or depressive episodes.

3. Family-focused therapy: Designed for adults and children with bipolar disorder and their caregivers, this therapy involves joint sessions that provide psychoeducation about bipolar disorder, improve communication, and teach problem-solving skills.

4. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a structured and goal-oriented therapy that examines the connection between thoughts, emotions, and actions. By challenging negative thoughts and behaviors, individuals learn to adopt healthier thinking patterns and habits.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Help:

Your mental health expert is likely to recommend making certain lifestyle changes to break patterns of behavior that exacerbate the symptoms of bipolar disorder. These lifestyle adjustments may include:

1. Abstaining from alcohol, recreational drugs, and tobacco: It is crucial to quit the consumption of alcohol, drugs, including tobacco, as they can interfere with medication effectiveness, aggravate bipolar disorder symptoms, and trigger mood episodes.

2. Maintaining a daily diary or mood chart: Keeping a record of your daily thoughts, emotions, and behaviors can increase awareness of the effectiveness of your treatment and help identify potential triggers for manic or depressive episodes.

3. Establishing a consistent sleep schedule: Bipolar disorder often disrupts sleep patterns, and changes in sleep routines can even trigger episodes. Prioritizing a regular sleep schedule, including going to bed and waking up at the same times each day, can be beneficial.

4. Engaging in regular exercise: Exercise has been proven to enhance mood and overall mental health, potentially aiding in the management of bipolar disorder symptoms. Additionally, since weight gain is a common side effect of bipolar disorder medications, exercise may assist with weight management.

5. Practicing meditation: Research has shown that meditation can be effective in improving the depressive symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.

6. Managing stress and cultivating healthy relationships: Stress and anxiety can exacerbate mood symptoms in individuals with bipolar disorder. It is important to proactively manage stress in healthy ways and reduce stressors when possible. Building and maintaining healthy relationships with supportive friends and family members is a significant aspect of stress management. It is also essential to let go of toxic relationships that contribute to stress in your life.

By implementing these recommended lifestyle changes, you can take an active role in managing bipolar disorder symptoms and improving your overall well-being.

Why Mindtalk ?

Mindtalk is a leading mental health provider from the Cadabams family bringing new-age therapeutic experiences.

Bipolar Disorder

Featured blogs