Bipolar Disorder Causes & Effects

Learn About Bipolar Disorder

Learn About Bipolar Disorder & Treatment at Life Healing Center

Bipolar disorder is a type of mental illness that can cause a person to experience hypomanic, manic, and major depressive episodes. The three most common types of bipolar disorder are differentiated by which types of episodes a person experiences:

  • Bipolar I disorder: To be diagnosed with this form of bipolar disorder, a person must experience at least one manic episode.
  • Bipolar II disorder: The criteria for a diagnosis of bipolar II disorder includes at least one hypomanic episode and at least one major depressive episode.
  • Cyclothymic disorder: Adults who have cyclothymic disorder will experience hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms for at least two years, but they will not have a full manic, hypomanic, or depressive episode.

As noted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), symptoms of bipolar disorder can include significant changes in energy, mood, and focus. A person who struggles with bipolar disorder may find it difficult or impossible to meet their day-to-day responsibilities.

However, with proper professional care, people can learn to manage the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder. With the right type and level of help, those who have been impacted by the effects of bipolar disorder can live healthier and more satisfying lives.

Signs & Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

People who have bipolar disorder may experience a variety of symptoms. The signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can be influenced by several factors, including which type of bipolar disorder the person has developed.

In general, the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder can be categorized by symptoms of manic or hypomanic episodes and symptoms of depressive episodes.

When a person is in the midst of a manic or hypomanic episode, they may experience the following symptoms of bipolar disorder:

  • Elevated confidence and self-esteem
  • Sense of grandiosity or infallibility
  • Excessive energy and lack of need for sleep
  • Rapid speech patterns
  • Increased tendency to act impulsively, recklessly, or dangerously
  • Taking on large projects or multiple projects
  • Racing thoughts
  • Jumping from one topic to another in conversation

When a person is having a depressive episode, they may demonstrate the following signs of bipolar disorder:

  • Extreme sadness
  • Subdued manner
  • Trouble concentrating or focusing
  • Being incapable of completing a task or project
  • Persistent exhaustion, fatigue, and excessive need for sleep
  • Difficulty experiencing pleasure
  • Dramatic change in appetite with resultant weight loss or weight gain
  • Loss of interest in important topics or activities
  • Pulling away from family and friends

Anyone who exhibits or experiences any signs or symptoms of bipolar disorder should consult with a qualified professional. Completing a thorough assessment and receiving an accurate diagnosis can be vital steps on the journey toward improved health.

Common Causes & Risk Factors of Bipolar Disorder

No single definitive cause of bipolar disorder has been identified, but researchers have noted the existence of several causes or risk factors that may increase a person’s likelihood for experiencing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) contains the following possible causes and risk factors of bipolar disorder:

  • Having a parent or sibling who has bipolar I disorder or certain other mental health concerns
  • Having any adult relatives who have bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder
  • Being widowed, divorced, or separated
  • Living in a high-income nation

Bipolar Disorder Statistics

The following bipolar disorder statistics were reported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

  • About 2.8% of the U.S. population experiences symptoms of bipolar disorder.
  • More than 80% of people who develop bipolar disorder struggle with symptoms that meet the clinical criteria for severe impairment.
  • Symptoms of bipolar disorder typically appear by age 25.
  • Men and women develop bipolar disorder at about the same rate.

Potential Effects of Bipolar Disorder

If you’ve been struggling with the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder, but you don’t receive appropriate care, you are at risk for several negative outcomes. The effects of bipolar disorder may vary depending on which type you have, the presence of any co-occurring disorders, and various other personal factors.

The following are among the many potential effects of untreated bipolar disorder:

  • Inability to form or maintain healthy relationships
  • Discord within your family
  • Problems making appropriate progress in school
  • Academic setbacks, failure, or expulsion
  • Poor job performance
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial problems
  • Physical harm or legal problems related to reckless behaviors
  • Onset or worsening of other mental health concerns
  • Substance use
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Loss of hope for the future
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suicidal actions

Anyone who experiences any effects of bipolar disorder needs professional help. According to a July 16, 2020, article on the McGovern Medical School website, the risk of death by suicide may be as much as 30 times higher among people who have bipolar disorder than among the general public.

If you have been experiencing the symptoms and effects of bipolar disorder, please know that help is available. With proper care, you can learn to manage these symptoms and live a much healthier and more satisfying life.

Common Underlying or Co-Occurring Disorders

If you have developed bipolar disorder, you may have an elevated risk for certain other mental health concerns. This is one of the many reasons why it can be so important to get professional assistance at a center that can identify and address the full scope of your needs, including any co-occurring disorders.

When you choose Life Healing Center, you will work with a team of experienced professionals whose services include thorough assessments and personalized planning. At our center, you’ll get the comprehensive care you need so that you can manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder and achieve improved quality of life.

This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Life Healing Center.

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Our previous treatment option did not seem to help our son's bipolar disorder. After admitting him to the caring staff at Life Healing Center, our son is now more of himself and better equipped to handle his symptoms.

– Susan F.
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