What is Bipolar Disorder?

A patient with bipolar disorder has severe fluctuations in mood – from Depression (feelings of extreme hopelessness, helplessness and worthlessness) to Mania (extreme overactivity and abnormally elevated mood) Usually, moods are normal in between the peaks and troughs.

Bipolar disorder has nothing to do with the ups and downs we all experience in life; it is much more severe, debilitating, and incapacitating.

Fortunately, it is treatable, and with proper care and the right medication, patients can perform well at work and academically and lead full, productive lives.

What are the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

People who have manic symptoms, may show extreme euphoria, i.e a feeling of being on the top of the world. They might get over confident and engage in risky behaviors. May also splurge money on unwanted things and may have difficulty in concentrating.

People who have depressive symptoms, may experience extreme sadness. They might also have thoughts of ending their lives. They may experience problems with sleeping and eating. They may feel tired more often and are easily irritated.

How long do the symptoms of bipolar last for?

There is no particular time criteria. It can last for 1week or may be if chronic, for years. However, it is advised to seek treatment for the symptoms to not aggravate and become chronic.

How long do the symptoms need to persist for it to be labeled as bipolar?

For a person to be labeled as Bipolar, he will have the manic and depressive symptoms atleast for a week.

Individuals with a family history of anxiety and depression are more at risk for having bipolar disorder.

What specialists deal with Bipolar disorder?

A Psychiatrist and a Psychologist is eligible to diagnose bipolar and help the patient deal with the process.

What can be the Causes?

There is no single cause but it may be a result of many factors acting together.

Do Genetics contribute in Bipolar Disorder?

Some of the researchers indicate that there is a genetic contribution to bipolar disorder risk. People with a blood relative who has bipolar disorder have a higher risk of developing it themselves.

Does chemical imbalance or its depletion cause Bipolar Disorder?

Evidence show that chemical imbalance can cause some mood disruptions and can lead to bipolar.

What can be the other causative factors?

Hormonal fluctuations and environmental factors like any trauma, stress can cause or trigger bipolar in a person.

What other disorders coexist with Bipolar Disorder?

People with bipolar disorder are at higher risk of having an anxiety disorder like panic disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.

What are the medications that are usually given to the patients suffering from bipolar disorder?

A lot of times, some specific combinations work the best for the patient. Medicines for bipolar can be a combination of neuroleptics, anti psychotics and antidepressants. Some of the common medicines are  olanzapine , risperidone , quetiapine , SSRIs like  fluoxetine, sertraline, paroxetine, citalopram .

What are the common side effects of these medications?

Dizziness, Headache, increased appetite, weight gain are some of the side effects that a person might have.

Can I consume alcohol when taking these medications?

It is advised to not consume any alcohol or any substance that may add to the drowsiness caused by anti depressant  medicines. People are generally advised to refrain from activity in which lack of attention may be dangerous to life.

What are the therapies that are used in the treatment?

Psychotherapies that have been found to be effective in treating bipolar disorder include family focused therapy, psycho-education, cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy and social rhythm therapy.

When should the patient be taken to the hospital and how often should he follow up?

If the symptoms are very chronic and beyond control, it is recommended that the patient is hospitalized so that the symptoms can be stabilized. Initially, the patient should  have a follow up once a week and when the symptoms reduce, the follow up can be done once in every 15 days.

Can Bipolar Disorder be treated?

The disorder is not completely curable but the symptoms can be controlled to avoid the episodes. Also, the combination of medications and psychotherapy together can sometimes do wonders for the client.

Do the medications have to be taken lifelong?

Medication needs to be taken as per the condition of the client. The dosage needs to be altered as per the need.

How can Bipolar Disorder be controlled?

It is important for the patient to take his medications properly. Also the patient needs to understand what are the things that can trigger the symptoms.

Where can people find help to support themselves or people they know to cope up with the disorder?

It is very important to address the problem. People can find help by visiting a psychiatrist or a psychologist who can make them aware of their problems and help them cope.

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