Bipolar Disorders – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Men and women are equally likely to develop BD. The disorder does tend to run in families and the rate of BD in identical twins is higher than that in fraternal (non-identical twins). During the depressed phase, the person tends to appear lethargic and withdrawn, shows a lack of concentration, and expresses feelings of worthlessness, self-blame, and guilt. This dual character of the disorder has given it the name bipolar disorder, in contrast to the unipolar depression symptomatic of the majority of mood disorders.

About 5.7 million American adults or about 2.6 percent of the population age 18 and older in any given year have bipolar disorder.

Because brain function is involved, the ways people with bipolar disorder think, act, and feel are all affected. This can make it especially difficult for other people to understand their condition.

Causes

It’s believed this condition is caused by imbalances in certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. If the neurotransmitters aren’t in balance, the brain’s mood-regulating system won’t work the way it should. Other scientists believe that bipolar disorder may also be a result of premature death of brain cells that deal with mood and emotion. This causes the brain to lose control of mood.

Symptoms

For some people, mania or depression can last for weeks or months, even for years. For other people, bipolar disorder takes the form of frequent and dramatic mood shifts.

Women with Bipolar Disorder have a very high chance of a significant mood disturbance both during pregnancy and in the post-partum period – most commonly in the first four weeks.

Common symptoms are-

• Feeling very irritable or angry
• Thinking and talking so fast that other people can’t follow your thoughts
• Not sleeping at all
• Feeling very powerful and important
• Having trouble concentrating
• Spending too much money
• Feeling worthless or guilty
• Change in appetite; unintended change in weight
• Trouble recalling things, concentrating or making decisions
• Headaches, backaches or digestive problems

Treatment

Fortunately, there are a number of good treatments available for Bipolar Disorder. The first step in treatment is appropriate evaluation and diagnosis. Usually medication can help control the mood swings. It is essential to develop a trusting relationship between the psychiatrist and patient,A strategy that combines medication and psychosocial treatment is optimal for managing the disorder over time. In most cases, bipolar disorder is much better controlled if treatment is continuous than if it is on and off. But even when there are no breaks in treatment, mood changes can occur and should be reported immediately to your doctor.

Many people respond to taking lithium. Lithium is a mood-stabilizing drug that is often effective in treating the manic phase of BD. Lithium is usually used with other antidepressant drugs such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.