Tip : Watch What You Put In Your Body
From the food you eat to the vitamins and drugs you take, the substances you put in your body have an impact on the symptoms of bipolar disorderfor better or worse.
Eat a healthy diet. There is an undeniable link between food and mood. For optimal mood, eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limit your fat and sugar intake. Space your meals out through the day, so your blood sugar never dips too low. High-carbohydrate diets can cause mood crashes, so they should also be avoided. Other mood-damaging foods include chocolate, caffeine, and processed foods.
Get your omega-3s.Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease mood swings in bipolar disorder. You can increase your intake of omega-3 by eating cold-water fish such as salmon, halibut, and sardines, soybeans, flaxseeds, canola oil, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. Omega-3 is also available as a nutritional supplement.
Avoid alcohol and drugs. Drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines can trigger mania, while alcohol and tranquilizers can trigger depression. Even moderate social drinking can upset your emotional balance. Substance use also interferes with sleep and may cause dangerous interactions with your medications. Attempts to self-medicate or numb your symptoms with drugs and alcohol only create more problems.
Getting Diagnosed And Getting Treated
While bipolar disorder is generally a life-long illness, treatment helps most people manage their symptoms. You may still have lingering symptoms and relapses, but you can enjoy a good and productive life. Because there is no blood test or brain scan that can diagnose bipolar disorder, you need to let your doctor know if you have any of the symptoms. You may be at increased risk of bipolar disorder if you have a family history of the disease.
Symptoms to report include:
Periods of depression when you may be very tired, have no energy, be unable to think straight, feel helpless, or have thoughts of death or suicide
Periods of mania when you may not need sleep, talk very fast, be very restless, have unrealistic ideas, and engage in reckless behaviors
Periods of mania or that last for at least seven days
Periods of mania or depression that are a major change from your normal behavior, most likely affecting your work and social life
Shifting back and forth between periods of feeling low, sad and helpless and feeling high, unstoppable and energetic
Bipolar Disorder And Caregivers
Its not easy caring for a senior with bipolar disorder, especially if it is a loved one newly diagnosed. Support groups can be a lifeline, and many can provide additional help and guidance.
Your primary healthcare provider will also be able to provide you with local listings, and there is a wealth of information available online.
Being a caregiver for a senior with bipolar disorder can often seem like a fulltime job, and it is important to remember that you are not alone. The right support group will be able to help you give the best care, if you are responsible for an older adult with bipolar disorder.2
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Bipolar Disorder: What Causes Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that results in extreme changes of mood, energy and ability to function. Although research has improved our understanding of why someone might develop bipolar disorder, the exact cause is still not known.
Scientists believe that bipolar disorder is the result of a complicated relationship between genetic and environmental factors. Research suggests that a person is born with a “vulnerability” to bipolar illness, which means that they are more prone to developing the disorder. However, this is not the only factor in determining whether a person will become ill. Environmental factors such as stressful life events also appear to play a role in that they can lead to the onset of the illness or “trigger” a relapse of symptoms.
Family, twin and adoption studies show that bipolar disorder can run in families although not everyone with a family history will develop this disorder. People who have first-degree relatives with a mood disorder are more likely to have a mood disorder. For example, a person with one parent who has bipolar has a 15 to 30% risk for developing the disorder.
It is important to remember that what is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another.
A person’s coping skills or their “resiliency” will also impact on how stressful the event is to that person.
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Brain Structure And Function
Researchers are learning that the brain structure and function of people with bipolar disorder may be different from the brain structure and function of people who do not have bipolar disorder or other psychiatric disorders. Learning about the nature of these brain changes helps doctors better understand bipolar disorder and may in the future help predict which types of treatment will work best for a person with bipolar disorder. At this time, diagnosis is based on symptoms rather than brain imaging or other diagnostic tests.
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Treatments For Bipolar Disorder
The high and low phases of bipolar disorder are often so extreme that they interfere with everyday life.
But there are several options for treating bipolar disorder that can make a difference.
They aim to control the effects of an episode and help someone with bipolar disorder live life as normally as possible.
The following treatment options are available:
- medicine to prevent episodes of mania and depression these are known as mood stabilisers, and you take them every day on a long-term basis
- medicine to treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they happen
- learning to recognise the triggers and signs of an episode of depression or mania
- psychological treatment such as talking therapy, which can help you deal with depression, and provides advice about how to improve your relationships
- lifestyle advice such as doing regular exercise, planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement, as well as advice on improving your diet and getting more sleep
It’s thought using a combination of different treatment methods is the best way to control bipolar disorder.
Help and advice for people with a long-term condition or their carers is also available from charities, support groups and associations.
This includes self-help and learning to deal with the practical aspects of a long-term condition.
Living With This Knowledge
Knowing then, that I will get better, and I will get worse is quite a challenge. I know of only one thing for it to lie. Or perhaps, put another way, to ignore it.
When its bad, you have to think about the fact that it will get better and ignore the fact that it will get bad again. Knowing that youll be back to the swells of pain that have swallowed you whole wont help. Not then.
When its good, you have to ignore the fact that it will get worse again. You have to plan for it and yet your psyche cant sit around waiting for it. Therell be time enough to worry about the freight train once its on the horizon.
I know this adds up to willful ignorance and which usually Im against. But I know no other way of living with such earth-destroying information. Just try not to think about it.
APA ReferenceTracy, N. . Mental Illness Does It Get Better or Worse?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2021, August 23 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/04/mental-illness-does-it-get-better-or-worse
My boyfriend has a mental illness which he denies.
ra person who wants helpLorinda ApplegateCPPiper
I am bipolar with borderline personality disorder. I feel like a monster who hurts everyone. Every single day requires a personal decision to not commit suicide. It hurts and is endlessly alone and dark in my world.
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What Is The Typical Age Of Onset For Bipolar Disorder
The average age of bipolar onset is around 25 years old, although it can vary.
Sometimes bipolar symptoms start in childhood or later in life. However, the most frequent range of onset is between the ages of 14 to 21 years.
Childhood bipolar is relatively rare, with only of children receiving this diagnosis.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health , about 4.4% of adults in the United States will experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives. It affects men and women equally.
NIMH estimates that nearly 2.9% of adolescents those who are between 13 and 18 years old will experience bipolar disorder at some point, with the highest prevalence (
Despite common belief, bipolar disorder doesnt just occur in young people. In recent years, research has shown an increase in the diagnosis of late onset bipolar disorder .
According to a 2015 report from the International Society for Bipolar Disorders Task Force on Older-Age Bipolar Disorder , up to 25% of people with bipolar disorder are 60 years of age and older. Its estimated that between 5% and 10% of people start showing symptoms of bipolar disorder after the age of 50 years old.
People diagnosed with LOBD differ from those with early onset BD in several ways.
In addition, people with LOBD have vascular changes in their right brain hemispheres that have been
Can Bipolar Disorder Show Up Later In Life
Yes, but infrequently. The majority of bipolar disorders have their onset in the late teens and early adult years, says Dr. Bruce Shapiro, adjunct professor of psychiatry at New York Medical College. Its estimated that only about 10% of individuals who have a bipolar disorder will have an onset after age 50, and that 5% will have an onset of the disorder after age 60.
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How Is It Diagnosed
Late-onset bipolar disorder is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that a healthcare professional will rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, like cerebrovascular disease.
They will likely begin with a thorough medical and family history and conduct medical assessments like lab and imaging tests.
Symptoms that may be assessed when diagnosing LOBD can include:
- mania, with fewer and milder episodes than in early onset bipolar disorder
- depressive episodes
- psychomotor changes
- mental flexibility impairments
- cognitive impairments, more pronounced than in early onset bipolar disorder
Once potential medical causes for symptoms have been ruled out, you may be referred to a mental health professional for further evaluation and testing.
How Is Nimh Addressing Bipolar Disorder
The National Institute of Mental Health conducts and supports research on bipolar disorder that increases our understanding of its causes and helps develop new treatments. Researchers continue to study genetics and bipolar disorder, brain function, and symptoms in children and teens who have bipolar disorder, as well as family history in health and behavior.
Learn more about NIMHs research priorities and current studies.
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Bipolar Disorder: How Common Is It In Seniors
The exact number of seniors with bipolar disorder is unknown.
A recent study estimated that one in ten new cases of bipolar disorder occur in adults over 50, but many researchers believe that these numbers are too high.
The Veterans Administration and other organizations found the following data in their studies on how bipolar disorder affects the elderly.
- 25 percent of patients with bipolar disorder treated at VA hospitals were 65 years of age or older.
- 6 percent of older patients with bipolar disorder were recently diagnosed with the illness.
An independent clinic study conducted outside of the VA noted that 41 percent of the participants ages 18 to 70 first noticed their bipolar disorder symptoms after they had turn 40 years old.
Researchers are not indicating that the disease is suddenly increasing in frequency, only that bipolar disorder in seniors might have always been more common than they thought only it was either undiagnosed or attributed to other disorders/conditions.
Studies also found that bipolar disorder occurs equally in men and women. When it appears in adults over 50, women are twice as likely to exhibit symptoms as men.
What If Im Not Happy With My Treatment
If you arent happy with your treatment you can:
- talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
- ask for a second opinion,
- get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
- contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service , or
- make a complaint.
There is more information about these options below.
How can I speak to my doctor about my treatment options?
You can speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you arent happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.
Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you arent given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it isnt suitable for you.
Whats a second opinion?
A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis.
You dont have a right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.
What is advocacy?
An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.
There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like. NHS complaints advocates can help you if you want to complain about the NHS.
Information For Family Carers And Friends
How can I get support?
You can speak to your GP. You should be given your own assessment through NHS mental health services to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.
These are some other options for you:
- Join a carers service
- Join a carers support group
- Ask your local authority for a carers assessment
- Read about the condition
- Apply for welfare benefits for carers
Rethink Mental Illness run carers support groups in some areas. You can also search for groups on the Carers Trust website:
- Rethink Mental Illness: www.rethink.org/about-us/our-support-groups
- Carers Trust: www.carers.org/search/network-partners
How can I support the person I care for?
You might find it easier to support someone with bipolar disorder if you understand their symptoms, treatment and self-management skills.
You should be aware of what you can do if you are worried about their mental state. It can be helpful to know contact information for their mental health team or GP.
You could find out from your relative if they have a crisis plan. You could help your relative to make a crisis plan if they dont have one.
As a carer you should be involved in decisions about care planning. But you dont have a legal right to this. The medical team should encourage the person that you care for to allow information to be shared with you.
You can find out more information about:
Living With Bipolar Disorder Tip : Get Involved In Your Treatment
Be a full and active participant in your own treatment. Learn everything you can about bipolar disorder. Become an expert on the illness. Study up on the symptoms, so you can recognize them in yourself, and research all your available treatment options. The more informed you are, the better prepared youll be to deal with symptoms and make good choices for yourself.
Using what youve learned about bipolar disorder, collaborate with your doctor or therapist in the treatment planning process. Dont be afraid to voice your opinions or questions. The most beneficial relationships between patient and healthcare provider work as a partnership. You may find it helpful to draw up a treatment contract outlining the goals you and your provider have agreed upon.
Improve your treatment by:
Being patient. Dont expect an immediate and total cure. Have patience with the treatment process. It can take time to find the right program that works for you.
Communicating with your treatment provider. Your treatment program will change over time, so keep in close contact with your doctor or therapist. Talk to your provider if your condition or needs change and be honest about your symptoms and any medication side effects.
Taking your medication as instructed. If youre taking medication, follow all instructions and take it faithfully. Dont skip or change your dose without first talking with your doctor.
Need to talk to someone?
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Telomeres And Biological Aging
Telomeres act as protective caps on the ends of DNA strands. Each time a cell divides, the telomere becomes shorter, until it is so short that the cell can no longer replicate.
In this way, telomere length can be used as a measure of biological aging and susceptibility to disease. In older people, telomeres are generally shorter. However, biological aging is different from chronological aging.
Various genetic and environmental factors can influence the rate of biological aging, meaning that two people of the same chronological age might be different ages biologically.
Telomere length is currently being investigated as a biomarker for neuropsychiatric conditions. For instance, shortened telomeres have been found in individuals with major depressive disorder, , and .
An association has also been found between telomere length and the structure of the hippocampus, which is an area of the brain involved in memory and mood regulation. Similarly, shorter telomeres are associated with
Myths And Realities About Bipolar Disorder
Five questions for bipolar disorder expert Eric Youngstrom, PhD
Myths and realities about bipolar disorder
Reporters/editors/producers note: The following feature was produced by the American Psychological Association. You may reprint it in its entirety or in part. We only request that you credit APA as the source.
Media coverage of people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder usually does not fully explain this serious mental illness, how best to treat it and how it can affect those who have it, as well as their families, friends and coworkers. To explain what bipolar disorder is and psychologys role in identifying and treating it, APA asked Eric A. Youngstrom, PhD, to share his knowledge about this mental illness.
APA: What is bipolar disorder and how is it different from the general mood swings that many people experience?
APA: Is bipolar disorder on the rise or does it just seem that way because of frequent media coverage?
APA: How prevalent is bipolar disorder? Is it more common among certain demographic or geographic groups?
APA: What causes bipolar disorder? Are there differences in how the disorder affects children, adolescents and adults?
APA: What are the most effective treatments for the disorder?
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