Bipolar

A man viewing the world through a bipolar disorder (BD) cutout
WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER (also known as BD)?
In essence, it is a severe lifelong mood disorder causing alternating episodes of “highs” [elevated mood or mania] and “lows” [depressed mood]. 1, 2
Furthermore, there are two types of Bipolar disorder. Bipolar 1 disorder affects men and women equally, while bipolar 2 is more common in women. 2

BIPOLAR 1 DISORDER: One or more episodes of mania with or without major depressive episodes. 2, 3
BIPOLAR 2 DISORDER: One or more episodes of hypomania (less elevated mood) as well as at least one major depressive episode. 2, 3  It also presents with shorter bouts of depression than bipolar 1. 4
Additionally, anxiety, substance use/dependence, and personality disorders are common to both. 4

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SYMPTOMS OF “HIGHS” (MANIA)
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  • An elevated or irritable mood which is often cheerful and joking but is unstable. There can also be extreme irritability and hostility
  • Overabundant energy and activity and rapid, pressured speech
  • A rush of ideas
  • Impulsive and inappropriate behaviour
  • Grandiose delusions (e.g. delusions of inventive genius or aristocratic birth)
  • Overoptimistic about one’s abilities
  • Severe insomnia

SYMPTOMS OF “LOWS”
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  • Depressed mood
  • Lack of interest or pleasure
  • Change in appetite
  • Insomnia/hypersomnia
  • Excessive guilt feelings
  • Ideas or acts of self-harm or suicide
  • Reduced self-esteem and self-confidence
  • Reduced concentration and attention
Mania is probably the most well-recognised feature of BPD. Even so, most people spend far more time in depressive episodes than in elevated and mixed mood episodes. 6

 

A depressed man sitting on the floor, possibly suffering from Bipolar Disorder

PHASES OF BIPOLAR DISORDER
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A graphic illustrating the phases of bd

WHO DOES BIPOLAR DISORDER AFFECT?
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The first symptoms of BD often present at 15 to 19 years of age. 2 There is often a family history of bipolar disorder, bullying at school and attempts of suicide/self-harm. 5
MEN 7

  • Early onset bd is often associated with manic episodes
  • Higher probability of childhood antisocial behaviour
  • Higher rates of comorbid alcohol abuse/dependence
  • Cannabis abuse/dependence
  • Pathological gambling

 

WOMEN 7

  • More depressive episodes
  • Higher rates of comorbid eating disorders
  • Weight change
  • Insomnia

HOW DOES IT IMPACT QUALITY OF LIFE?
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Bipolar disorder impacts quality of life in the following ways:

  • Affects work functioning and is responsible for loss of productivity and increased illness and absenteeism. In fact, 72% of bipolar patients receive disability payments.1
  • BD is associated with increased substance use/dependence and the excessive use of alcohol and smoking. 1, 5
  • It Increases the likelihood of having other psychiatric and medical conditions. 1
  • It Increases the risk of suicide, especially during major depressive episodes. 8

CAN SPECIALISTS TREAT BIPOLAR DISORDER?
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Yes, Effective treatment is certainly available for BD. However, despite advances in medical and non-medical treatments, BD often has many relapses and affects psychological functioning. 7
Long-term treatment is aimed at preventing manic and depressive episodes. Specialists strongly recommend Long-term treatment because even after one episode, the chances of having recurrences in a lifetime is 95%. 6 Therefore, treatment of BD is often lifelong, and treatment specialists need to review the condition at least every six months. 2

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP
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The first step to effective long-term treatment is to discuss your bipolar symptoms with your general practitioner or a healthcare professional at your local day clinic or hospital.

 

A young man and woman, sitting on some crates




Bipolar Disorder (BD) Medical References

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