There is a great diversity of mental conditions that stand out for how they influence mood, behavior and even personality. Each of them is differentiated according to the symptoms and their intensity. One of the most serious is bipolar disorder, those who suffer from it experience unusual mood swings .

These are individuals who can be very active and surprisingly begin to experience sadness. These frequent changes of constitute the creation of cycles difficult to modify . Statistically high rates of diagnosed patients remain, they are usually adolescents or people who are just beginning adulthood, however there are no limits on age. Below we analyze in greater depth what its characteristics and symptoms are.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that was previously known as Manic Depression . This condition is characterized by extreme changes in mood, ups and downs often attract attention causing the patient to show erratic behavior. 

It differs from other mental conditions in that the patient will experience emotions and sensations in an unexpected and uncontrollable way. Specifically mention is made of hypomania which describes an emotional high, while depression refers to emotional lows.

The particularity that this disease presents lies precisely in the limitations that it will create in the patient. That is, you may feel very aroused, but eventually you may suddenly feel unusually irritable. They can easily lose interest or pleasure in doing activities that until then were generally part of their daily lives.

These episodes of mood swings, however, usually happen rarely. It depends largely on to what extent or has this condition developed, other external and physiological aspects that are associated with this disease must also be taken into account. Each patient presents a particular symptomatological picture, but preserving its main characteristics.

What are their characteristics?

Its main characteristic is the consecutive experimentation of episodes where changes in mood are observed. They can easily be identified, because they considerably modify the patient’s habitual behavior. In most cases the symptoms have an emotional origin , however in other cases the symptoms may correspond to certain real situations.

It is important to highlight the variability that exists in types of bipolar disorder, these are related to other mental disorders. The symptoms show similarities between all these cases, so the diagnosis usually takes time. Among the similarities will be the unpredictable changes in mood, they are the cause that the behavior is unpredictable . This generates not only suffering and problems for the patients themselves, people related to them also suffer the consequences.

Type 1 bipolar disorder is characterized by experiencing manic episodes followed by a hypomanic episode or a depressive episode. Because the latter are more intense, they can cause the patient to disconnect from reality, this is called psychosis.

Type 2 bipolar disorder is characterized by experiencing a major depressive episode followed by a hypomanic episode. This means that this typology does not present manic episodes. It is not a milder variety of bipolar disorder, it is a condition where manic episodes can instead be more serious or even dangerous. For example, a diagnosed patient could remain for long periods of time with depression causing a significant deterioration in their mental health.

Cyclothymic disorder describes symptoms of hypomania and other symptoms associated with depression that occur sporadically. It is considered to be a less serious condition compared to major depression. Finally, mention should be made of other types of disorders associated with the consumption of certain drugs and alcoholic beverages.

What are your symptoms?

As previously mentioned, the main symptom is the radical change in mood. But, to be more specific, this is a disease that will present a complex symptom picture that must be analyzed in greater depth. This mental condition manifests itself from two different types of episodes which are mania and hypomania . Both have similarities in terms of their symptoms, however they also have some differences.

Mania is generally considered to be the most serious type of episode, this is because it has significant repercussions on the patient’s functionality . That is, it can become a limitation to be able to lead a normal rhythm of life within the social and work environment.

People face serious difficulties in relating to other people because it generates a disconnection from reality . This particular symptom is called psychosis and when not treated in time it may require emergency hospitalization. The following are common symptoms for mania and hypomania. They are as follows:

  • The patient will experience extreme episodes of nervousness and tension . They can be consecutively replaced by other episodes of optimism and excitement.
  • There is a considerable increase in physical and mental activity. Patients can be described as more energetic and agitated .
  • They may feel a sense of well-being and confidence that is considerably greater than usual. It’s called euphoria and it happens unexpectedly.
  • There is less need to rest and fulfill the hours of sleep. The patient may not sleep for long periods of time .
  • The patient may begin to speak more than usual. You do not necessarily have to have incoherence in your speech, the most outstanding thing is the impossibility of stopping speaking.
  • Patients begin to have greater creativity , their minds begin to create more ideas.
  • They can be more easily distracted , inattention affects daily tasks such as reading or talking.
  • They tend to make decisions impulsively , they are more prone to making mistakes. The same happens in other areas such as compulsive purchases and other unplanned investments, they will also practice risky activities without measuring the possible consequences.

As for the depressive episodes of greater intensity, these present symptoms that create obvious conflicts in daily activities. Patients are no longer active, efficient and autonomous when trying to get involved in work or social projects. These are its symptoms:

  • The mood is depressive, the patient feels a feeling of emptiness and hopelessness. They often cry continuously and are irritable.
  • There is a marked loss of interest in doing activities that until then were normal. They also lose the ability to feel pleasure.
  • There is a decrease in appetite or instead a considerable increase. Changes in body weight are also another symptom to watch out for.
  • Difficulties falling asleep such as insomnia.
  • His physical activity decreases considerably.
  • You begin to experience thoughts and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. 
  • Difficulty staying focused , as well as an inability to make decisions.
  • In the most severe cases, patients may consider suicide.

Diagnosis and treatment

It is usual for the first symptoms to be identified during adolescence or just after 20 years of age . It could be considered to be a condition that affects young people and people who have just entered adulthood. Symptoms can vary depending on their intensity and how they affect the patient, but they can even change over time.

It is also important to mention that until now there is no known solution or definitive cure , it is considered to be a lifelong mental condition. But it is possible to treat it effectively with an emphasis on controlling mood swings and their associated symptoms. For this reason, patients who are under medical surveillance usually follow a personalized treatment plan, which has been designed based on what their needs are.

This type of disorder depends on the use of psychotherapy in combination with certain medications. They can be antidepressants, antipsychotics or also anxiolytics, in any of these cases they are always administered under strict medical supervision. Likewise, its administration usually occurs during certain periods of time, if it lasts it can generate unwanted side effects.

Because the causes of this disease are still under investigation, a definitive long-term prognosis cannot be specified with this attitude. That is, whatever type of treatment is selected could only help control the symptoms . Some experts consider that genetic factors are determining factors, which predispose these people by family inheritance.

There is also the possibility that there is an abnormality in the structure and functions of the brain. Consequently, it could be a chemical or physiological deficiency in this organ. Depending on the treating medical professional, medication could be administered that is intended to make changes in these aspects of brain functions.

Importance of knowing bipolarity

Considering that it is a disease that affects the functions of the brain, this means that people will also be affected in their thinking, way of acting and feeling. For this reason, it is difficult for other people to understand this disorder, this generates frustration in the patient who feels misunderstood.

It is important to find out what bipolar disorder really is. Unfortunately, at present there is an inadequate handling of the term “bipolar”, it is used even in a derogatory way. It is usually used to refer to those people who are easily upset or who change their opinion quickly, for example.

For psychology it is essential to help patients diagnosed with this condition, because it is difficult for them to face it on their own. The emotional instability they present totally alters their life, as well as the perception they have of it. For this reason, it is common for them to need the help of family, friends and other close people. They are the ones who are in charge of warning about the first signs of this disease, which for them do not go unnoticed.

Ignorance regarding this and other similar mental conditions, has caused the rejection of people who suffer from them. Because they are individuals who have few productive cycles, they often face serious difficulties in integrating into society and in the workplace . They are usually considered as unsuitable people to carry out certain jobs or projects. This contributes to making it more difficult to recover and control symptoms, due to the stress and anxiety that it generates.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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