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All you need to know about Bipolar Disorder

On March 30th each year, the world comes together to raise awareness regarding a disorder that affects 46 million people around the world. While we may have heard this term once in our lifetime, what does being bipolar actually mean? Bipolar disorder causes the person to have unusual and sudden changes in mood, energy, activity levels, concentration, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. There are three types of bipolar disorder. Though they vary in terms of the severity of the mood changes and the period that these mood changes last, all three types involve clear changes in mood, energy, and activity levels.

Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe that the person needs immediate hospital care. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks. Episodes of depression with mixed features (having depressive symptoms and manic symptoms at the same time) are also possible.

Bipolar II Disorder is defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypo manic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes that are typical of Bipolar I Disorder.

Cyclothymic Disorder (also called Cyclothymia)— defined by periods of hypo manic symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypo manic episode and a depressive episode.

Why does it happen? There are many underlying causes that may cause bipolar disorder including genetic factors, biological factors such as hormonal issues and environmental factors. These environmental factors include a past traumatic experience or other life events that cause the person to get a bipolar disorder triggered. Treatments and Therapies Treatment can help many people, including those with the most severe forms of bipolar disorder. An effective treatment plan usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. Episodes of mania and depression typically come back over time. Between episodes, many people with bipolar disorder are free of mood changes, but some people may have lingering symptoms. Long-term, continuous treatment can help people manage these symptoms.

Medications Certain medications can help manage symptoms of bipolar disorder. Some people may need to try several different medications and work with their health care provider before finding medications that work best.

Psychotherapy Psychotherapy can be an effective part of the treatment plan for people with bipolar disorder. Psychotherapy is a term for a variety of treatment techniques that aim to help a person identify and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It can provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder and their families. Treatment may include therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and psycho education, which are used to treat a variety of conditions. If you feel that you or someone you know suffers from these symptoms help them to reach out to a mental health professional who can guide you on the treatment plan for the individual. Don’t hesitate, although bipolar disorder is found to be a lifelong illness, medication and therapy is found to be very effective in managing these sudden changes.

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