Bipolar Disorder

Life Quality Resources can help you improve your response to life’s challenges and support a healthy transition to your more balanced self.

 

Treatment

Whether you have been struggling with bipolar disorder for most of your life, or you are concerned that that your child or teen might be developing symptoms of bipolar disorder, there is help for you. This is a controllable condition with the right treatments, and Life Quality Resources has the clinical background and experts to guide you through your own personalized treatment plan drawing on the array of services we provide (see Services tab).

 

About Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as Manic-depressive disorder, can be a persistently disruptive condition that has severe effects on mood and behaviors. From the lows of depression to the highs of mania, this disorder creates a rollercoaster effect that is unpredictable.
Mood swings can occur only a few times per year in some cases, while affecting others’ mood swings several times a day. The lows of depression usually produce feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and lack of interest in daily activities. The highs of mania can often generate bursts of sustained energy, feelings of euphoria, and delusions.

There are several categories of bipolar disorder, and each of these categories has differing patterns of symptoms.

Bipolar I disorder. Generally defined by manic or mixed episodes that last at least seven days, typically coupled with depressive episodes for two or more weeks. The manic symptoms are frequently so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Mood swings with bipolar I cause significant difficulty in your job, school or relationships.

Bipolar II disorder. Bipolar II is less severe than bipolar I. You may have an elevated mood, irritability and some changes in your functioning, but generally you can carry on with your normal daily routine. Instead of full-blown mania, you have hypomania — a less severe form of mania. In bipolar II, periods of depression typically last longer than periods of hypomania.

Cyclothymia. Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder. With cyclothymia, episodes of hypomania shift back and forth with mild depression. It can be disruptive, but the highs and lows are not as severe as they are with other types of bipolar disorder.

 

Symptoms

Symptoms and their degrees of severity vary from person to person, but there is some consistency in the expression of the illness that people with bipolar disorder experience. For some, depression is the most troubling aspect, and for others mania creates the most concern. When depression and mania occur together, it is known as a mixed episode.

 

Manic phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of the manic or hypomanic phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Euphoria
  • Inflated optimism and self-esteem
  • Poor judgment
  • Rapid speech
  • Racing thoughts
  • Aggressive or risky behavior
  • Agitation or irritation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Spending sprees or unwise financial choices
  • Increased sex drive
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Careless or dangerous use of drugs or alcohol
  • Frequent absences or poor performance at work or school
  • Delusions or a break from reality (psychosis)

 

Depressive phase of bipolar disorder

Signs and symptoms of the depressive phase of bipolar disorder can include:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Guilt
  • Sleep problems
  • Low appetite or increased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in daily activities
  • Problems concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Chronic pain without a known cause
  • Frequent absences or poor performance at work or school

 

Other signs of bipolar disorder:

Seasonal changes in mood. Some people with bipolar disorder have moods that change with the seasons. Some people become manic or hypomanic in the spring or summer and then become depressed in the fall or winter. For other people, this cycle is reversed.

Rapid cycling bipolar disorder. Some people with bipolar disorder have rapid mood shifts. For some people with bipolar disorder, these shifts occur on a weekly or monthly basis, but in more severe cases, mood shifts can happen within hours.

Psychosis. Severe episodes of either mania or depression may result in psychosis, a detachment from reality. Symptoms of psychosis may include false but strongly held beliefs (delusions) and hearing or seeing things that aren’t there (hallucinations). In some people, sudden psychosis (a psychotic break) is the first sign of bipolar disorder.

 

Symptoms in children and adolescents

Instead of clear-cut depression and mania or hypomania, the signs of childhood or adolescent onset bipolar disorder can be as mild as irritability or as intense as explosive temper, rapid mood shifts, reckless behavior and aggression. In some cases, these shifts occur within hours or less — for example, a child may have intense periods of giddiness and silliness, long bouts of crying and outbursts of explosive anger all in one day. Changing sleep patterns are also a common indicator of childhood or adolescent onset bipolar disorder.

 

Causes

There are varying determining factors involved in causing and triggering bipolar episodes:

Biological differences.  Studies indicate that people with bipolar disorder typically have enlarged ventricles in the brain, an enlarged amygdala and increased numbers of white matter hyper-intensities. These differences are a strong indication of impairments to their cognitive function, including such things as information processing and verbal memory.

Neurotransmitters.  An imbalance in specific neurotransmitters called the monoamines (noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine) and acetylcholine is a significant contributing factor in the onset and perpetuation of bipolar disorder.

Hormones.  Hormone imbalance, largely due to diet and nutrition, is thought to be a causal factor in bipolar disorder, and plays a critical role in the controlling the symptoms and the treatment of the disorder.

Inherited traits.  Bipolar disorder is more common in people who have a blood relative with the condition. Genetic research is attempting to isolate specific genes that may be associated with bipolar disorder.

Environment.  Traumatic experiences, stress, physical abuse, substance abuse, or significant loss may also play a role in bipolar disorder.