Bipolar Disorder is a disorder that exhibits very extreme mood swings anywhere from deep depression to mania. Bipolar can also be called Manic Depressive Disorder. This disorder can be quite serious and it can also be the cause for a variety of risky behaviors that even can include suicidal behaviors. However, there is hope because bipolar can be treated with both medication and therapy. Bipolar can be broken down into two major types called Bipolar I and Bipolar II.
Bipolar I Disorder
This disorder can be called Manic Depression or Manic Depressive Disorder. Someone who is affected by Bipolar I Disorder will have at least one manic episode in their lives. When they suffer from a manic episode they will have a period where their mood will be elevated abnormally including excessive energy and then there can be behavior that’s not normal and this usually will disrupt their lives.
A lot of people who suffer from Bipolar I will also often suffer from several episodes of being depressed. Quite often there will be a pattern of their moods cycling from mania to depression. This is why they call it manic depression. Those suffering from this disorder can quite often live normal lives if treated.
Who are More at Risk to Develop Bipolar I?
Actually, any of us can develop this disorder. Nearly one in four people in the UK will develop Bipolar I Disorder. This means, that you more than likely will know someone close to you that suffers from it.
Most who do come down with it are either in their teens and/or early 20s. This is usually when the very first symptoms of the disorder will start to show up. Almost all who have it will generally develop before they reach the age of 50 years. Those who happen to have someone in their close family who have it also tend to be at a higher risk to develop it.
What are the Symptoms of Bipolar I?
Some of the symptoms that are commonly associated with Bipolar I include:
- Quickly moving from one idea to the next idea
- Loud and/or fast speech that can be “pressured” or un-interruptable speech
- Lots of energy and hyperactivity
- Decreased need for any sleep
- Tend to have an inflated self-image of themselves
- May start spending a lot of money they can’t afford to be spending
- Various different types of substance abuses
For those going through a manic episode might spend more money than they should. They may end up having sex with those they normally wouldn’t. They may also make plans that are very unrealistic and grandiose. Sometimes they may behave in a bizarre and delusional manner.
If their episodes of mania go without being treated they could last from just a few days up to several months. Then after the mania, depression often follows and may not go away for weeks to several months.
The episodes of depression that those with bipolar I are quite similar to clinical depression. They will experience depressed moods, lack of pleasure in things they once loved to do, low levels of energy, experience feeling of worthlessness and guilt. Some may even suffer from suicidal thoughts.
What Treatments Can Be Used for Bipolar I?
Those who suffer from Bipolar I will require some sort of treatment with that includes a choice of different antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. They also will sometimes be prescribed sedatives/hypnotics such as benzodiazepines like clonazepam and lorazepam.
Popular Mood Stabilizers
Lithium – This is a metal in a pill form that works effectively when it comes to controlling mania which can involve euphoria instead of a mixture of depression and mania at the same time. This drug has been used for treating those with Bipolar for over 60 years. It can take a few weeks for it to start working fully. This makes it a better drug for a maintenance treatment for those who suffer from sudden episodes of mania.
Valproate – This drug is an anti-seizure drug that can also help to level out a person’s moods. It acts a lot faster than lithium does and is often used in treating acute episodes of mania. This mood stabilizer that also can be used in a “loading dose” method of administration. It will start at a higher dose and then can be tapered off. It also starts to work in as soon as four or five days.
Other anti-seizure medications that can be used include:
When it comes to manic episodes that are severe, more traditional anti-psychotics will be used. Some of the more common ones include:
Minor Tranquilizers Sometimes Used (Benzodiazepines)
There is also a class of drugs considered to be “minor tranquilizers”. These drugs include:
These drugs can be occasionally used for a shorter term treatment for the acute symptoms that are associated often with manic behavior, agitation and/or insomnia. However, they aren’t used for the treatment of the core mood symptoms that are considered to be depression or euphoria.
Anti-Depressants Used in Treatment
There are some more common anti-depressants that can be used in the treatment of Bipolar I and these drugs include:
These drugs can be effective in treating depression associated with Bipolar I Disorder. However, in some people, these same drugs can make some patients manic episodes worse.
Along with medication for treating Bipolar cases, therapy like CBT or Cognitive Behavior Therapy can be combined with medication.
Therapy for Bipolar
There are a variety of different therapies that can become an important part of one’s treatment of their Bipolar Disorder. Therapy can include discussing thoughts, feelings, and different behaviors that seem to cause problems in life. Talking therapy is helpful in helping people to understand and learn to master their problems that could be hurting their ability to function in life. Some therapies include:
- Behavioral Therapy – This is a therapy that puts most of the focus on behaviors that can help to decrease stress in a patients life.
- Cognitive Therapy – A type of therapy with an approach that involves learning how to identify as well as modify any patterns of patients thinking that might come along with mood swings.
- Interpersonal Therapy – This is a therapy that focuses on involving relations and the goals are to reduce the strain that Bipolar Disorder can put on those in a relationship.
- Social Rhythm Therapy – A kind of therapy that can help patients to develop along with maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and daily routines that are more predictable.
Others Forms of Help
There are forms of help that people can include in their treatment such as:
- Support Groups – These groups can help those who suffer from Bipolar Disorder. In group, people can get encouragement from others like them. They can also learn better-coping skills and also share their concerns with other people. People often will feel much less isolated. Friends and family members can also benefit from support groups. It helps them to have a better understanding of their illness, learn how to support their loved ones and to express their own concerns.
- Education – Another important part of treatment for Bipolar is education. This education is for both the patient and their family members. Those who have Bipolar will often benefit a lot when they learn more about their disorder like its early signs of episodes, symptoms and the different kinds of treatments that are available.
- Establishing Routines – It’s important that those who suffer from Bipolar have regular routines that include a regular sleep cycle, regular activities, and eating properly.
- Learning to Identify Symptoms – Even with early warning signs of an episode is approaching, it can vary from one person to another. But with the help of a therapist, patients can learn to identify the different behavior changes that are signals for the onset of an episode.
- Learn to Adapt – Patients also need to learn how to adapt by avoiding behavior that is embarrassing during a manic episode and learn to set goals for treatment that are realistic. One of the key things for adapting is to be able to understand the different stressors that can increase a patients risk of having depressive or manic episodes. They are also taught how lifestyle changes can help reduce these episodes.
Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II is also a mental illness. Even though Bipolar II is quite similar to Bipolar I with its mood swings from high to low. However, with Bipolar II, the manic moods rarely ever reach full-on mania like with Bipolar I. The elevated moods in Bipolar II are fare less intense and is called hypomania or hypomanic episodes.
Those who suffer from Bipolar II will probably have a minimum of one hypomanic episode in their lives. Most will, however, suffer from more depressive episodes than one with Bipolar I.
Symptoms of Bipolar II Disorder
The symptoms of Bipolar II Disorder are basically the same as Bipolar I. Those who do experience episodes that are hypomanic are generally very pleasant to have around. Very often they tend to be the “life of the party”. They tend to make a lot of jokes and appear to have a lot of interest in what people are saying and doing. They also show a lot of interest in activities. Often their cheery mood can infect others with this positive mood.
This might sound great, however, hypomania may lead to some unhealthy and erratic behavior. Sometimes it can cause them to seek sex with those they may not normally want to have sex with. They might also get involved with other risky and impulsive types of behavior that could end in consequences that are dangerous.
Treatment for Bipolar II Disorder
Most of the time, the treatment for Bipolar II Disorder is the same as with Bipolar I. Treatment can include therapy, medication, education, group sessions, adapting life to disorder and having reliable routines to keep life in order.
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