Bipolar disorder is widely known to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
People with bipolar disorder experience extreme periods of depression and mania, which often changes. The constant changes make everything so exhausting.
The depressive episodes are extreme low moods with lack of energy and feeling lethargic. Overwhelming feelings of worthlessness and potentially thoughts of suicide are also common during a depressive episode.
Manic episodes are extreme high, elevated moods. These episodes are not just feelings of 'high' or 'good feelings' they are moods that are beyond reason and cause major distress and exhaustion. During a manic episode the person with bipolar disorder may feel happy and have ambitious ideas and plans. Unlike normal every day mood swings, each extreme episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks, even longer, or even less and many people who have bipolar disorder may not experience a normal mood very often.
There are many treatment options available for bipolar disorder, including:
- Psychological treatment such as talking therapy which helps to improve your relationships and helps you to affectively deal with depression.
- Medication to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they occur.
- Learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode or depression or mania and how to prevent them.
- Medication to prevent episodes of mania, hypomania and depression, these are taken every day on a long term basis, called mood stabilisers.
- Lifestyle advice such as doing things that you love and doing regular exercise as well as improving eating habits and getting enough sleep.
Anyone can be affected by bipolar disorder, it does not discriminate, although it often develops between ages of 15 to 19 and rarely develops after the age of 40. It is fairly common and about 1 in 100 people will be diagnosed with it.
If you think that this sounds like you, see a doctor and discuss the symptoms.