Bipolar affective disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings. The individual may experience episodes of mania or hypomania (abnormally elevated or irritable mood) as well as episodes of depression. These episodes can last for days, weeks, or even months and can be severe enough to disrupt daily life.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but research suggests that it may be a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors.
Some common causes of bipolar disorder include:
- Genetics: Studies have shown that bipolar disorder tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic component.
- Brain chemistry: Imbalances in certain chemicals in the brain, such as neurotransmitters, may contribute to the development of bipolar disorder.
- Environmental factors: Trauma, stress, and major life changes can trigger episodes of mania or depression in people who are susceptible to the disorder.
Symptoms of mania or hypomania include:
- Increased energy and activity levels
- Reduced need for sleep
- Racing thoughts and rapid speech
- Impulsivity and poor judgment
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
- Reckless or risky behavior
Symptoms of depression include:
- Persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Difficulty concentrating
- Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide
To diagnose bipolar disorder, a healthcare professional will typically conduct a thorough psychiatric evaluation, including a patient interview, a review of the patient’s medical and psychiatric history, and a mental status examination. They may also perform a physical examination and laboratory tests to rule out other potential causes of symptoms.
Treatment options for bipolar disorder include:
- Medications such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants
- Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and family-focused therapy
- Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
- Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a consistent sleep schedule and avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs.
It is important to note that treatment for bipolar disorder is typically tailored to the individual and may involve a combination of different approaches. It is also important to work closely with a healthcare professional to manage the condition and prevent future episodes.
For further support and information please book an appointment with our specialists….
Dr Ibrahim Yahli MD MRCPsych