Today as part of our Mental Illness Fact Series we are shining the spotlight on Bipolar Disorder.
At least one in every 100 people will experience Bipolar Disorder at some point in their life, with higher rates seen in people aged between 16-24 years. Keep reading to become more informed on causes, treatments and support options.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, previously called manic depression, is characterised by extreme mood swings where the individual has periods of intense depression and periods of euphoria and high mood. Bipolar disorder differs from person to person, and the periods of mood swings can occur a few times a year, or more often, sometimes several times a week. Unlike regular moods swings, when someone is suffering from a bipolar disorder, their moods swings interfere with their everyday lives and change a person’s behaviours, thoughts, and beliefs.
There are different types of bipolar disorder. Different diagnosis depends on the onset, frequency of mood shifts, and the severity of mood swings:
Bipolar I disorder
Bipolar II disorder
Onset of bipolar disorder is most common in late teenage years, however diagnosis can take considerable time, in some cases close to 10 years from onset of symptoms to diagnosis.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
Scientists have linked inappropriate levels and usage of certain emotion-responsible brain chemicals with bipolar disorders. More research is required to determine whether the brain make up is the cause or a side effect of the disorder. There have been strong family connections noted in some patients, so genetics may play a role, and in those cases, some environmental factors could trigger onset or relapse of the disorder.
Currently, the most effective treatment for bipolar disorders is a combination of mood stabilising medications, and psychotherapy. Like all other mental health disorders, healthy lifestyle changes and stress management techniques can be effective at managing symptoms and controlling mood fluctuations.
Where can I find help?
It is essential that you consult with your trusted healthcare professional to determine a care plan for treatment and management. It is always best to be open and honest about your symptoms so your doctor can make a diagnosis and work out the best treatment for you. Your GP will be able to offer you community resources, and support groups that you may find beneficial.
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Always remember to call 000 in an emergency situation.