Learn About Bipolar Disorder & Treatment at Life Healing Center
Characterized by fluctuations in one’s mood that can range from severe depressive episodes to manic or hypomanic episodes, bipolar and the related disorders that include these symptoms can cause a great deal of disruption to a person’s life, as well as emotional turmoil that can be exceedingly distressing. According to the Fifth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, these mental health conditions can impact a person’s mental health, as described in the following ways:
Bipolar I: By far the most severe form of bipolar disorder, bipolar I includes intense emotional lows that can prevent a person from completing even the most mundane of daily tasks. Conversely, this condition also includes periods of mania, which can entail emotional excitability and cause sufferers to demonstrate impulsive and reckless behaviors that can render serious consequences. When these starkly different mood states fluctuate quickly, it is known as rapid cycling.
Bipolar II: Similar to bipolar I, bipolar II can involve periods of depression, however, this condition does not include manic episodes. Bipolar II features hypomanic episodes that are less severe when compared to the mania experienced by sufferers of bipolar I. And while the symptoms of this illness can be distressing, the impact they can have on a person’s functioning may not be as disabling as the strife experience by those with bipolar I.
Cyclothymia: The most mild of the bipolar-related disorders is cyclothymia. Sufferers of this disorder often report pervasive feelings of hypomania and depression, though are often not experiencing enough disruption in their lives to need treatment unless other co-occurring conditions are present at the same time.
Only a mental health professional can discern which type of bipolar disorder a person is suffering from. Should symptoms of such illnesses become apparent, it is important to seek mental health treatment in order to eventually live a life that is not hindered by the presence of bipolar disorder or another related condition.
Bipolar Disorder Statistics
A great deal of research reports that there are approximately 6 million people in the United States who are battling bipolar disorder, which accounts for nearly 3% of adults in America. And while symptoms of this disorder can manifest at any age, the average age of symptom onset is actually 25.
Causes and Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder
The onset of bipolar disorder is believed by researchers and professionals in the field of mental health to be due to the presence of a number of different factors. These factors are discussed briefly in the following:
Genetic: There is an increased risk for a person to experience bipolar disorder symptoms if he or she possess a family history of this mental health condition. This risk increases exponentially when a person’s mother or father has bipolar disorder, as researchers believe that an individual with this type of family history is 15% to 25% more likely to experience symptoms of this illness. Lastly, people with a family history of bipolar disorder will also experience symptoms approximately ten years sooner than their relatives afflicted with this condition. In light of these findings, it can be said that this mental health condition can be inherited from one’s parents.
Environmental: When an individual has a family history of bipolar disorder, certain environmental influences can trigger the onset of symptoms or exacerbate any existing symptoms present. Substance abuse, for example, is an environmental factor that can cause symptoms of this illness to manifest when a genetic predisposition for the illness is present. Additionally, a great deal of research reports that those who have endured trauma are at a greater risk for experiencing symptoms synonymous with bipolar disorder or can experience worsening symptoms of PTSD due to the unstable mood that is cornerstone to bipolar disorder. When an individual grapples with patterns of unstable moods, such drastic emotions can prevent a person from coping with trauma in a healthy manner.
- Family history of bipolar disorder or other mental health condition(s)
- Personal history of substance use or abuse
- Personal history of trauma
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Because there are different types of bipolar disorder, the telltale signs of this condition can vary from person to person. Bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia can cause sufferers to display symptoms at varying severity levels and could be noticed by loved ones by observing the following symptoms:
- Instigating conflict with others
- Becoming physically aggressive with others
- Missing days of work
- Social withdrawal
- Rapid speech
- Acting impulsively
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Body temperature fluctuations
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Vocal tics
- Uncontrollable muscle movements
- Exacerbated startle response
- Sleep disturbances
- Lethargy during depressive episodes
- Increased heart rate during episodes of mania
- Teeth grinding
- Memory disturbances
- Poor concentration
- Rapid thought processes
- Suicidal ideation
- Fleeting ideas
- Mood fluctuations
- Grandiose feelings
- Dysregulated emotions
- Feelings of intense anger
- Low self-esteem
Effects of Bipolar Disorder
Allowing the symptoms of bipolar disorder to remain untreated can make a person vulnerable to experiencing a number of harmful effects as a result. Such effects can oftentimes be irreversible and impact the lives of loved ones at the same time. The listed effects are those that are known to occur when a person does not seek and receive treatment for bipolar disorder:
- Development of an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol
- Demise of meaningful relationships
- Increased conflict with others
- Social isolation
- Hindered occupational performance
- Inability to acquire or maintain steady employment
- Engaging in risky behaviors that could lead to additional negative consequences
- Suicidal ideation
- Suicide attempts
Bipolar & Co-Occurring Disorders
Men and women who are grappling with the distressing and all-consuming symptoms of bipolar disorder often suffer from additional mental health concerns at the same time. Trauma-related disorders, for example, are a type of mental health condition that can impact individuals with bipolar disorder, as the emotional dysregulation that occurs with the drastic shifts in mood that are cornerstone to untreated bipolar disorder can make coping with trauma more cumbersome. For this reason, it is not uncommon for sufferers of bipolar disorder to battle post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or acute stress disorder after enduring a traumatic experience.
Aside from trauma-related conditions, the following are other mental illnesses that are known to occur alongside bipolar disorder:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Other anxiety disorders
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
- Substance use disorders