What is Bipolar Disorder?
This disorder usually has recurring periods of depression but also some or many periods when one is very excited.
In bipolar disorder type 1, the person has suffered at least one manic episode. In mania, thoughts are racing, self-esteem is extremely high and the feeling is euphoric. You feel that you don’t need to sleep or eat. Mania always leads to messy situations as one’s actions lack judgment. This could be spending lots of money in a way that feels right at the time, but is completely irrational, that you become very sexually aggressive and end up in sticky situations and hurt others, that you tell the “truth” to people around you in a completely inappropriate way. You can also become irritable and frustrated because you feel that people are boring and just want to limit you. When mania settles down, a lot has happened, which often involves major problems in the form of debts, hurt family members and problems at work. Shame and guilt are common.
Sometimes mania can also cause psychotic symptoms, such as delusions of being an extremely prominent person with an important task.
In bipolar type 2, you are not manic. Instead, you experience a milder form called hypomania. The condition is characterized by clearly reduced need for sleep, many ideas and great optimism, altered social behavior and irritability.
After hypomanic periods, there is a very high risk of depression. Both because of the brain’s impaired regulation of the emotional state and the life situation after such a period. The depressive periods in bipolar disorder are similar to moderate or deep depression, but here the usual antidepressant drugs have no effect. If you only get SSRI-type antidepressants, the risk increases instead of becoming hypomanic.
Why are People Affected?
As with the other conditions, there are genetic factors and increased risk due to heredity. It’s also known that the risk of both manic and depressive episodes increases with irregular sleep. Stress is also a risk factor. Life changes, such as moving out of your parents’ house or separation are common triggers.
When Should You Seek Care?
It’s common that the person who’s hypomanic doesn’t think that they themselves need care. In the beginning, it feels very good in many ways. Often, it’s relatives or colleagues who bring the person to a psychiatric clinic. If you’re excited, hypomanic or manic, you should seek psychiatric care immediately. Don’t go to your regular doctor.
- Routines for sleep and activity are important. Those who have sought care for bipolar disorder are taught how to reduce the risk in this way.
- Avoiding alcohol or drugs is very important.
- It’s common for the person who’s excited to feel comfortable with the condition and stop medicating. It almost always leads to deterioration. Hence it’s important to have a medication plan with your doctor. Being able to reason about the pros and cons of the medicine, the possibility of having a slightly lower “maintenance dose” and being able to increase it if sleep starts to become poor and similar individual adjustments are often necessary.