BI-POLAR DISORDER

"You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle." Julian Seifter

Twenty years of clinical psychology experience would surely back up my claim that its two-thirds of the battle.

Remember – fighting bipolar disorder is incredibly easier when you have relevant information about the disease. So, let's first dive into the fast facts:

  • One out of a hundred people are bipolar so you are definitely not alone.

  • Bipolar disorder is the 6th major cause of disability in the world.

  • Success rates related to lithium treatment of Bipolar disorder vary from 40%-80%.

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder are satisfied with their current medications.

  • According to a 2001 study Cognitive Behavioral Therapy reduce up to 60% of bipolar disorder relapse.

Bipolar disorder can affect anyone. Age, gender, or profession is completely irrelevant. But it is most commonly found in 16-24 years old since it's an emotional turning point in our lives. Half of the people are diagnosed before the age of 25.

It is often classified as a brain disorder and is a result of an imbalance of chemicals in the brain.

Fluctuating between manic highs and depressive lows is the best bipolar disorder definition

People suffering from Bipolar disorder are highly sensitive and always on alert. Whether they are crossing the street in heavy traffic or encountering perfectly tame situations such as making a coffee or a phone call. From a psychological perspective, these situations convey the exact same meaning to them. They view them as a threat.

Their personal struggles are so painful. Every day it feels like they have to disguise in "a socially acceptable person". They"must" be accepted by other people, who by the way can be criminals not yet stigmatized.

Trust = Social Stigma

Many of them are embarrassed to confide their disorder to anyone, even to their closest friends. It's hard for them to trust people since they don't trust themselves. It's their bipolar mindset that convinces them that they are always in jeopardy. To be honest, means to be crucified by society.

Trust equals uncertainty and they are sick and tired of that feeling. In some cases, their fear is quite rational. Many of them have encountered a huge brick wall between them and their employers who don't have sympathy for their condition. What's worse the last is completely ignorant of the symptoms and torture these people are facing every day.

That's why it's so unbearable and frustrating to even try to explain their pain to those who have never experienced a day in their life traveling from paradise to hell and back again. So they either get fired or quit the job to go back home where their sturdy walls will "protect" them.

The same goes for relationships. Even when surrounded by amazing people they can't relax. They go through every worst-case scenario of what might happen if he/she finds out about their condition and racing thoughts. "What if the medication doesn't work? What if they face the worst manic state and lose control? So it's safer to turn down all social invitations and stay in the "comfort" zone which is all but comfortable.

From the biological perspective, when one encounters the mania stage his/her frontal lobe is inactive, with No breaks. No reasoning. Quite the opposite, the amygdala acts like a kickboxer, red hot, and hyperactive.

When the depressed amygdala is turned off. One has no emotions and is indifferent and pathetic. The frontal lobe is shut down too.

Fluctuating between manic highs and depressive lows is often hard to bear because it affects every single aspect of one's life. Some patients identify it with a never-ending roller-coaster ride.

SYMPTOMS

Symptoms are different for each individual. Some people feel like they have no control over it but still learning to live with it. It's touch and goes for them and medical treatment is the only way out. Others feel that they can live without medications, which is dangerous and highly unwanted.

However, most people suffering from bipolar experience:

  • Unusual, dramatic shifts in the moods. They either experience mania or depression.

  • Thoughts of sadness, excessive guilt, worthlessness, total lack of control and even suicide

  • Concentration problems, complete loss of interest, fatigue, insomnia or abnormal oversleeping

  • Abnormal weight gain or weight loss

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • An extreme burst of energy, restlessness, and short temper.

  • Unreasonable confidence in themselves, fast and inconsistent talking, an exaggerated need for activity.

  • Short sleep intervals, no self-control, restless behavior.

  • The sudden escalation of irrational frustration. They easily get angry when things don't go their way or frustrated for no reason at all.

  • Abnormal mood changes happen at various intervals.

  • Mild or severe migraines

They could be depressed for 4-5 months, then get back to their normal mood for a few months, then manic for a couple of months, and then back to their normal state again. So over a year, they can experience at least 4 cycles of mania to depression. What makes an average person different from a bipolar is that they experience these moods in a short time spans from 5 mins to 24 hours. So when asking yourself: "Could I be bipolar" bear these facts in mind.

CAUSE

There's never only one cause. It's rather determined by interacting factors.

However, most people suffering from bipolar experience:

  • It's often triggered by environmental factors such as a TRAUMATIC EVENT and when it happens it can easily develop again without any triggers at all.

  • Some neuroscience studies suggest that due to certain genes GENETIC FACTORS are responsible for an average tenfold increase in the risk of developing bipolar disorder.

  • Neurotransmitters and Brain Chemicals Imbalances.

  • HORMONAL IMBALANCES

ADVICE

  • Taking prescribed medications regularly, ensuring enough sleep, and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine.

  • Seeking help but not on the internet, especially not through online quizzes or tests. Taking control of this mental illness implies a mixture of traditional medicine and holistic health approach.

  • Luckily in the cyber world free education, information, and support programs are always available. But please, be careful and consult only reliable and licensed websites and authors.

  • Keeping oneself occupied and socialize only with very close friends or family members who have a deep understanding of what you are going through.

  • Therapy. The most important thing is that the prescribed medications stabilize your mood. Since they treat both – manic episodes and depression. Daily Light therapy is also strongly recommended.

  • And, remember creativity and ingenuity are closely related to Bipolar disorder. Vivien Leigh, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Sir Isaak Newton, Mozart, Beethoven, Marilyn Monroe, and Judy Garland are only some of the famous people who left an invaluable hereditary to the mankind even though they suffered from the Bipolar disorder.