What is Bipolar Disorder? Symptoms, Behaviour, Types and Treatment

Bipolar Disorder, earlier known as ‘Manic Depression’, causes shifts in Mood, Emotions and Energy Levels, causing recurring cycles of Depression and Mania (or Hypo-mania, which is a mania with a smaller magnitude of behavioural change). These shifts may occur over a period of days or even weeks. Initially, it can go undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed as Depressive Disorder as mania doesn’t come across as mania, rather seems like a normal ‘good-mood day’ until it reaches a point of hospitalization or comes close to it. Sometimes this disorder also presents with other issues like Anxiety Disorder, Substance Abuse Disorder, ADHD or other Personality Disorders, making the diagnosis even further difficult.

Bipolar Disorder has a spectrum of diagnosis, all of which have similarity in terms of the mood cycles, but the magnitude of severity and the period of an episode varies. The major symptoms are Depression and Mania (or Hypo-mania). While other symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Extreme Introspection
  • Psychosis
  • Anger
  • Hyper Libido

Major Symptoms

Depressive phase during Bipolar Episode is similar to that of Major Depressive Disorder, also known as Unipolar Depression. The signs of a Depressive phase may include:

  • Hopelessness & Unmotivated
  • Lack of energy to do anything
  • Focussing on a task becomes difficult
  • Disturbed eating and sleeping routines

The depressive phase is usually followed by a Manic (or Hypo-manic) episode. The signs of Manic episodes are:

  • Highly energetic
  • Happier than normal
  • Overtly Optimistic
  • Euphoric
  • High self-esteem

The manic episode seems to be very nice when looked from a shallow level but is very risky for the person involved. A few examples of Manic episodes are

  • The person might land up making rash financial decisions
    • Investing in risky business
    • Buying things that they don’t need
    • Some have even been found gambling away their entire savings.
  • The person might behave recklessly and making poor life decisions
    • Speeding their vehicle and driving rashly
    • Breaking long term relations
  • The person also might feel overly sexual
    • This when combined with the previous issue, might lead to complicated scenarios like cheating on their spouse or getting involved with someone they shouldn’t have.
  • They might have rapid speech or racing thoughts
  • They might feel energetic enough to go without sleep for days.
  • They might also suffer through delusions of Grandeur
    • They might believe that they are on a mission from God or have supernatural powers

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar has been traditionally segregated in 4 types, but the entire spectrum is a little larger.

Bipolar Type 1: It showcases itself with 2 weeks of depression with 1 week of mania which would need hospitalization. The mania in this type is in its highest form and can be the most devastating.

Bipolar Type 2: This type has 2 weeks of depression and at least 4 days of hypo-mania. This is the most commonly misdiagnosed version of Bipolar as hypo-mania becomes very difficult to pinpoint. It is usually seen as Unipolar Depression until the hypo-mania becomes significant enough to be detected.

Cyclothymia :  (Unofficially known as Bipolar Type 3) This presents itself with recurring depression and hypo-mania (both are of smaller magnitude), this recurring session can last for almost 2 years, and it might also further develop in Bipolar Type 1 or 2.

Bipolar Type 4: This type has manic or hypo-manic episodes occurring only after taking anti-depressants while depression presents itself during the normal course of life.

Bipolar Type 5: This one refers to a patient who has a family history of Bipolar Disorder but the patient only presents with symptoms of major depression only.

Mixed Episodes: This is a condition where Depression and Mania present themselves simultaneously.

Causes and Treatment

Bipolar Disorder is one of the mysteries for human-kind. The exact cause of the disorder is unknown except for knowing that there are genetic and environmental components to the condition. Apart from this, very little is known about this disorder.

Not just the cause but even the treatment is almost non-existent as there is no cure for this disorder. But doctors do help out a great deal in managing the symptoms are reducing the episodes to a great degree with the help of medication, behavioural therapy and in some cases with electroconvulsive therapy.

As always, thank you for reading.