Bipolar Disorder Management: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

Bipolar disorder presents itself either in the late teens or early adult years. Around half of all people begin to show signs of bipolar disorder before age 25.

Define: Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness causes abnormal shifts in mood and behavior. Due to its effect on concentration, energy level, and sleep, a person’s capacity to complete daily tasks can be severely affected. This illness is characterized by severe symptoms that can damage relationships, lead to poor performance in the job or school, and even increased risk for suicide. Bipolar disorder is treatable. People suffering from it can lead a full and productive life.

Causes

  • Genetics – Bipolar disorder is hereditary. People with certain genes have a greater tendency of developing it. Children who have a parent or a sibling suffering from bipolar disorder are more vulnerable to it than children who don’t have any such member in their immediate families. Still, majority of the children with a family history of bipolar disorder may never develop it.
  • Brain structure and functioning – Researchers use certain brain imaging tools like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) to take pictures of the living brain. These images help the doctors to study the human brain’s structure and activities to identify ‘multi-dimensional impairment’ in children, patterns of brain growth and development linking to the common causes of mood swings.

Symptoms

Manic episodes in bipolar disorder often last for at least a week during which serious mood disturbances are noted in the patient, including elation, irritability, or expansiveness. Apart fro mood, to meet dsm criteria any three of the following symptoms must be present at the same time:
  • Grandiosity or narcissistic outlook
  • Sleeplessness
  • Excessive talking or pressured speech
  • Racing thoughts or flight of ideas
  • Distractibility
  • Increased goal-directed activities at home, or at work
  • Impulsivity and engagement in excessive pleasurable activities, including in those that may be risky
During hypomanic bipolar episodes, patients have an elevated, expansive, or irritable mood. These episodes may last for at least 4 consecutive days. Besides, following symptoms could be noted as well (at least any three):
  • Grandiosity or inflated self-esteem (narcissistic outlook)
  • Sleeplessness
  • Pressured speech (taking a mile a minute)
  • Racing thoughts or flight of ideas
  • Distractibility
  • Increased goal-directed activities at home, or at work
  • Participating in activities with a high risk
People can also have depressive episodes on the other end of spectrum. To meet criteria for a major depressive episodes (MDE), a person has 5 or more of the following symptoms for about 2 weeks. Most important symptoms are pervasive depressed mood or loss of pleasure or interest in hobbies/pleasurable activities.
  • Depressed mood
  • Significant loss of pleasure or interest in almost all activities
  • Marked loss of or increase in appetite
  • Hypersomnia (excessive sleep) or insomnia (sleeplessness)
  • Psychomotor retardation or agitation
  • Loss of energy or fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Poor concentration
  • Preoccupation with wishing yourself dead or feeling suicidal (planning to attempt suicide)
These bipolar disorder symptoms can cause major disability and distress. They aren’t caused because of substance abuse or any other medical condition.

Treatment

Partial hospitalization can provide a huge relief to the mentally ill person, as this may provide crucial support and interpersonal relationships.

Pharmacologic Therapy

Various agents are available that can be used to treat bipolar disorder. The choice of agent depends on symptoms like agitation, aggression, psychosis, and sleep disturbance .
  • Benzodiazepines (e.g., lorazepam, clonazepam)
  • Antimanic agents (e.g., lithium)
  • Anticonvulsants (e.g., carbamazepine, valproate sodium,)
  • First-generation antipsychotics (e.g., inhaled loxapine, haloperidol)
  • Second-generation antipsychotics (e.g., asenapine, ziprasidone,)
  • Phenothiazine antipsychotics (e.g., chlorpromazine)

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is effective in instances where patients with bipolar disorder or manic-depressive illness (MDI) fulfill the following criteria:
  • When fast, distinct psychiatric treatment is required.
  • When there is low risk in treating with ECT as compared to other forms of treatment.
  • When the bipolar disorder refracts to a sufficient number of trials with other treatment strategies.
  • When the patient chooses this treatment modality.

Psychotherapy

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can help people with bipolar disorder to alter their destructive or negative thought patterns and behaviors.
  • Family-focused therapy involves family members. It helps to improve a family’s coping strategies. For example: identifying new depressive episodes early and helping the patient accordingly. This therapy promotes communication amongst the family members, as well as creates a problem-solving outlook in them.
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy may help people with bipolar disorder strengthen their relationships with others and manage their daily routines better. Regular daily routines and sleep schedules can assist in defending against new manic episodes.
  • Psychoeducation can be used to teach people with bipolar disorder about their illness and the kind of treatment needed. Psychoeducation can help them to recognize signs of an approaching mood swing so that they can seek early treatment before a full-blown episode. Psychoeducation done in a group can be effective for family members and caregivers.

Dietary and Activity Measures

Patients are encouraged to exercise regularly. They must develop a regular daily schedule of major activities such as times of going to bed and waking up. Addition of certain supplements may help not only combat side effects of medication but also help improve mood.

Bipolar disorder FAQs

Extreme mood fluctuations are a feature of the mental health disease known as bipolar disorder, sometimes known as manic-depressive illness.

Mania (or hypomania) and depression are symptoms of bipolar illness. People with bipolar disorder experience mania (or hypomania) and depression.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder vary depending on the type of episode (manic or depressive) a person is experiencing. Some common symptoms of a manic episode include elevated or irritable mood, grandiosity, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, impulsivity, and risky behavior. Symptoms of a depressive episode include:

  • A low or sad mood.
  • Loss of interest in activities.
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Changes in appetite or sleep.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

The leading cause of the bipolar disorder is unknown, but genetic, environmental, and neurochemical factors can cause it. Research suggests that certain neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, may play a role in the development of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder is diagnosed based on a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional, which may include a physical exam, psychological assessment, and a review of a person’s symptoms and medical history.

Treatment for bipolar disorder typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants may be prescribed to manage symptoms. Psychotherapies work well, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy (IPT), which can help people with bipolar disorder learn coping skills and manage their symptoms.

With proper treatment, people with bipolar disorder can lead everyday, productive lives. However, it is crucial to continue treatment even when symptoms improve to prevent relapse.

If you know a person with severe bipolar disorder, it is essential to be supportive and understanding. Please encourage them to seek treatment and help them maintain their treatment plan. Learn about bipolar disorder and how it affects your loved one, and be patient and empathetic.

Bipolar disorder is a chronic condition, meaning it cannot be cured. However, with proper treatment and management, symptoms can be effectively controlled.

Triggers for bipolar episodes can vary from person to person, but some common triggers include stress, lack of sleep, substance abuse, changes in routine or environment, and hormonal changes.

Yes, children can develop bipolar disorder, although it is less common than in adults. Bipolar disorder in children may present differently than in adults, and diagnosis can be challenging due to overlapping symptoms with other mental health conditions.

Can medication for bipolar disorder have side effects?

Like any medication used to treat bipolar disorder can have side effects. Common side effects of mood stabilizers include drowsiness, dizziness, weight gain, and nausea. Talking to a healthcare provider about medication’s potential risks and benefits is essential.

Yes, therapy can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. Psychotherapy can help people with bipolar disorder learn coping skills, identify triggers for mood episodes, and develop strategies for managing symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal therapy (IPT) are often used to treat bipolar disorder.

Yes, lifestyle changes can help manage bipolar disorder. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and adequate sleep can improve mental and physical health. Avoiding drugs and alcohol, managing stress, and establishing a routine can also help manage bipolar symptoms.

Supporting someone with bipolar disorder can involve:

  • Being understanding and patient.
  • Helping them maintain their treatment plan.
  • Offering practical support like help with everyday tasks.

Educating yourself about the condition and seeking support for yourself is essential.

It is recommended to see a mental health professional specializing in bipolar disorder, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Primary care doctors can also provide referrals to mental health providers.

Several support groups are available for individuals with bipolar disorder and their families, such as the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). Savant care also provides mental health treatments. You can also contact us! You also provide education, resources, and support for those affected by bipolar disorder.

Visit our local community mental health center located in states include:

There are several types of therapy available for bipolar disorder treatment, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), and family-focused therapy (FFT). These therapies can help individuals learn coping skills, manage symptoms, and improve relationships with family members.

Our clinics in Los Altos, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Ontario, San Francisco, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Anaheim provide mental health treatment. We offer inpatient and outpatient programs, support groups, and one-on-one therapy. You can learn more about the options available from the local office for treating bipolar disorder or other mental health conditions.

Top psychiatrists to help you overcome bipolar disorder

Dr. Joann Mundin, MD Psychiatrist

Dr. Joann Mundin, MD
Psychiatrist

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 20+
NP Shebna N Osanmoh I, PMHNP Psychiatrist

NP Shebna N Osanmoh I, PMHNP
Psychiatrist

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 13+
Dr. Barbara Huynh, DO Psychiatrist

Dr. Barbara Huynh, DO
Psychiatrist

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 13+
Dr. Alexander Ghobadimanesh, DO Psychiatrist

Dr. Alexander Ghobadimanesh, DO
Psychiatrist

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment, Rancho Santa Margarita Clinic

Years in Practice: 4+
Dr. Norberto Tuason, MD Psychiatrist

Dr. Norberto Tuason, MD
Psychiatrist

Language: English

Location:

Years in Practice: 11+
Dr. Bessy Martirosyan, MD Psychiatrist

Dr. Bessy Martirosyan, MD
Psychiatrist

Language: English

Location: Zoom - Telepsych appointment

Years in Practice: 20+