Bipolar Disorder – The Basics
Bipolar Disorder or Manic Depression is a mood disorder that can be described as an experience of abnormal moods and exaggerated extreme mood swings. There are two major aspects of the disorder. Firstly, “high” moods, characterized by extreme euphoria, also called manic episodes. Accompanied by extremely “low” moods characterized by sadness and lack of energy called depressive episodes.
These episodes can be mild or severe and they affect the way a person thinks, feels, and acts, and one of the two types can be more frequent than the other. This disorder affects both men and women and usually begins in the early to late 20s.
Most individuals with a diagnosis of Bipolar are engaged with support from a psychiatrist and GP. However, some might also benefit from seeing a psychologist in Melbourne.
Mania is an extreme mood state where a person feels euphoric, driven, or irritable. Hypomania is a more moderate form of mania. Symptoms of mania include:
- Irritability (quick anger, touchy)
- Decreased need for sleep
- The rapid flow of ideas
- Grandiose ideas (they think they’re more talented than others or have unique gifts)
- Increased sexual drive
- Uncharacteristically poor judgment
Depression is a mood state characterized by a significantly lowered mood and those episodes can be mild or major, depending on severity, duration, and presence of characteristic symptoms. The most common symptoms are:
- Continuous sad, and empty mood
- Poor and disrupted sleep
- Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
- Decreased interest in sex
- Lack of concentration
- Possible suicidal ideation
There can also be mixed episodes with symptoms of both types of episodes appearing every day for a period of time.
There are multiple types of Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder.
Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by severe depressive and manic episodes, which is cyclical in nature.
Bipolar II Disorder is characterized by severe depression and episodes of hypomania.
Cyclothymic Disorder is characterized by short periods of hypomania and mild depression, but it can turn into one of the two more severe types.
There is a range of different factors that may lead to bipolar disorder.
Genetic vulnerability- suggests that the vulnerability runs in the family.
Biological vulnerability- A chemical imbalance in the brain can cause a person to become vulnerable to mood episodes.
Life stress- family conflicts, employment difficulties, getting married, or having children can all cause this illness.
There are risk factors that increase the chances of a person developing Bipolar disorder, especially if the person is already vulnerable. Some of them are alcohol/drug abuse, irregular lifestyle, poor social support, psychological impairment, inappropriate coping mechanisms.
Early detection allows for intervention and prevention of episodes. Research has found that many bipolar patients are able to recall early warning signs such as increased activity, decreased need for sleep and elevated mood for mania, or loss of energy, lack of concentration, and suicidal thoughts for depressive episodes. Regular monitoring of moods and symptoms is necessary for prevention. The first step is monitoring moods every day, where an individual can write it down and rate symptoms
+5 manic, -5 depressed, 0normal.
Individuals can also monitor different symptoms – were you unable to sleep/sleep too much, felt worthless or guilty, unable to concentrate, more talkative, easily distracted, etc.
Many people tend to search for “the best psychologist in Melbourne” but this is very subjective as people will relate to psychologists differently based on individual traits.