Psychiatrists from the Pacific Brain Health Centre at California, David A. Merrill and Pavan Madan have listed major signs of bipolar disorder and how to know if you have it.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by bouts of mania and depression. Mania is characterized by feelings of euphoria, irritability, or energy while symptoms of depression include feeling sad, low, or worthless.
According to Dr Merill, you may have bipolar disorder if you experience periods of intense depression along with periods of excitement and energy, or mania, noting that you will have a higher likelihood of developing bipolar disorder if someone in your family also has it.
The psychiatrist added that other mental health conditions like psychosis and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are also associated with bipolar disorder.
According to mental health journal, globally, bipolar disorder is estimated to affect over 46 million people in the world, with 52 and 48 percent being female and male, respectively.
“Bipolar disorder is a chronic and debilitating illness,” Madan explained. “While there is no cure for it, like for many other physical and psychiatric problems, it can be well-managed with the help of medications and support.”
According to Madan, there are three separate types of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I: People with bipolar I experience a pattern of depressive episodes and manic episodes. Their manic episodes last at least 7 days and are much more severe than other types. They may even require hospital stays.
- Bipolar II: Those with bipolar II also experience patterns of mania and depression, but their manic episodes are less severe than those seen in Bipolar I.
- Cyclothymic disorder is a mood condition where the mood swings are not as severe as those seen in people with bipolar disorder.
He added that the average age of onset for bipolar disorder is 25, and it is equally prevalent across genders. While symptoms can vary, here are some of the most common signs of bipolar disorder:
- You experience intense periods of depression, combined with periods of energy and excitement
- Both manic episodes and depressive episodes can last anywhere from a couple of hours to several weeks. Plus, people with bipolar disorder can experience few or no symptoms between these mood episodes.
“Manic symptoms are not always as clear-cut or severe, so people are often misdiagnosed for years before they reach an accurate assessment and treatment,” Madan said.
“While scientists have not figured out the exact genes responsible for passing bipolar disorder to children, genetics are considered to be a significant factor in the risk of developing it,” Madan explains.
A 2017 Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience found that people who have a first-degree relative (a parent, sibling, or child) with bipolar disorder have a 15 per cent to 35 per cent greater risk of developing the condition themselves. The likelihood increases to 75 per cent if an individual has two first-degree relatives who have bipolar disorder.
If you suspect that you have bipolar disorder, or you’re displaying common symptoms, Madan recommends making an appointment with your primary care physician or a psychiatrist as soon as possible.
Additionally, he said to go directly to the emergency room if you’re ever strongly considering harming yourself or another person.
Depending on the severity of the bipolar disorder in question, people can be treated as outpatients or in a residential psychotherapy programme. Madan further recommends that people with bipolar disorder try to avoid extreme stress and sleep deprivation, as these can trigger episodes.
“Regular monitoring by a mental health provider is essential to ensure ongoing stability and appropriate care,” Madan stated.