Bipolar disorder just as the name implies is a affective mental health condition that causes behavioural and mood rotations between two end poles which are the manic mood and the depressive mood. Bipolar disorder also known as manic depression disorder happens when there is an alternating swing in the mood and behaviour that affects the social, emotional and cognitive well being of the sufferer. It is one of the most ignored mental health issues as it often misdiagnosed as a major depression. According to statistics, Nigeria records more than 1.5 million cases of bipolar disorder per year, yet many are unaware of this mental health condition, its symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment.
Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder
There are two major symptoms that show the presence of bipolar disorder, they include unpredictable episodes of mania and episodes of depression. The episodes of depression present itself in many ways such that the individual becomes socially withdrawn, feeling of helplessness, self-hatred, loss of enthusiasm in daily routines, sadness, feeling of worthlessness, aggressiveness, delusion, suicidal thoughts, inability to maintain stable relationships, ill perception of self and people around.
The unpredictable episodes of mania is a total opposite of the depressive mood, the symptoms present itself in ‘’high’’ manner like hyperactivity, insomnia, overt excitement when least expected, uncontrolled indulgence in risky acts or dangerous stunts.
In some cases, the above mentioned symptoms may tend to be present at the same time, this is called mixed affective episodes. When this happens, the individual may for instance feel useless and at the same time have impressive imaginations of self. While these symptoms may seem to be present and considered while diagnosing bipolar disorder, it is advisable to get therapeutic advice and diagnosis as other mental health issues like schizophrenia, grandiose personality disorder and major depression also present similar symptoms. Diagnosing bipolar disorder usually takes longer time as the individual is placed under supervision for some time to ensure that symptoms present are not mistaken for other mental health issues.
Causes Of Bipolar Disorder
Studies have not been able to come up with the underlying causes of bipolar disorder; however, there are some risk factors that predisposes one to the claws of this mental health issue. These factors include
1. Environmental Factors: The environment one finds oneself plays a huge role in affecting the mental health status of the individual. Traumatic or stressful events/experiences increases the risk of bipolar disorder. These traumatic events could be rape, violence, sexual abuse, or domestic abuse from childhood whose effects become evident as the individual grows older and gradually breeds a cycle of depression. A survey was conducted and about 50 per cent of adults diagnosed with bipolar disorder had in one way or the other experienced trauma during childhood.
2. Neurological Structure/ Health Status: Studies have shown that neurological health conditions like brain injury, neurosis, stroke among others increases the risk of bipolar disorder.
3. Genetic factors: Scientific studies have shown that the combination of certain chromosomes increases the chances of suffering bipolar disorder. A study conducted on genetics as a risk factor for bipolar disorder shows that the chromosome 22 region bears the highest susceptibility to bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder can be generally prevented by avoiding the factors that could bring about this disorder; avoiding traumatic situations and stressful experiences has proven to be the best way to prevent bipolar disorder, in essence, even with genetic risk factors one might not experience bipolar disorder until it is triggered by these above mentioned factors.
Bipolar disorder is treated in two ways; psychotherapy and medications
1. Psychotherapy: This treatment is often the most effective treatment for bipolar disorder although it needs to be complemented with pharmacological prescriptions. Psychotherapy is the most effective treatment because it does not just tackle the disorder but also addresses the root cause of the disorder like environmental factors to avoid relapse. Cognitive behavioural therapy is one treatment models that effectively takes care of the behavioural and mood swings.
2. Medications: This involves administering drugs to help manage bipolar disorder effects. Antipsychotics serve as tranquilisers and are used in stabilizing psychotic states. Antipsychotic drugs are usually administered when an individual experiences extreme manic attack. Drugs such as clozapine and olanzapine are good antipsychotic drugs. Antidepressants are another type of drugs administered during episode of depression, these drugs work well in treating bipolar disorder by harmonizing the neurotransmitters that are in charge of mood and emotions. This drug helps reduce depressive symptoms and lighten up the mood. Mood stabilizers are also administered to help reduce episodes of manic and depressive attacks, thus keeping the individual’s mood stable. Lithium is the commonly used and effective mood stabilizer.
Now that you know about bipolar disorder, do well to be observant and look out for these symptoms around your neighbourhood because chances are, you might be saving someone from committing suicide by just showing care with this knowledge.