What Causes Bipolar Disorder
Though the exact cause of bipolar disorder has yet to be found, scientists confirm that bipolar disorder has a genetic component, meaning the disorder can run in families. Some research suggests that multiple factors may interact to produce abnormal function of brain circuits that results in bipolar disorder’s symptoms of major depression and mania. Examples of environmental factors may include stress, alcohol or substance abuse, and lack of sleep.
Treatments For Older Age Bipolar Disorder
A treatment plan for bipolar disorder may include a combination of therapy and medication.
Although older adults will receive the same, or very similar, medications as younger adults, a healthcare professional may need to adjust the dosage to prevent side effects. They may also need to consider the other medications a person is taking to avoid potentially harmful drug interactions.
The following sections look at some treatment options for bipolar disorder in more detail.
Can I Take Medicine For Bipolar Disorder While Breastfeeding
Yes. Certain medicines to treat bipolar disorder are safe to take while breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about what medicines you can take after giving birth.
Learn more about medicines and breastfeeding in our section. You can also enter your medicine into the LactMed® database to find out whether your medicine passes through your breastmilk and, if so, any possible side effects for your nursing baby.
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How Do I Get Help If I Think I Have Bipolar Disorder
The usual first step to getting help is to speak to your GP.
It can help to keep a record of your moods. This can help you and your GP to understand your mood swings. Bipolar UK have a mood diary and a mood scale on their website. You can find their details in the Useful contacts section at the bottom of this page.
Your GP cant diagnose bipolar disorder. Only a psychiatrist can make a formal diagnosis. Your GP may arrange an appointment with a psychiatrist if you have:
- depression, and
- ever felt very excited or not in control of your mood or behaviour for at least 4 days in a row.
They might refer you to a psychiatrist at your local NHS community mental health team .
Your GP should make an urgent referral to the CMHT if they think that you might have mania or severe depression. Or there is a chance that you are a danger to yourself or someone else.
Your GP should refer you to your local NHS early intervention team if you have an episode of psychosis and its your first one.
Bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose because it affects everyone differently. Also, the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be experienced by people who have other mental illness diagnoses. It can take a long time to get a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.
You can find more information about:
- NHS mental health teams by clicking here.
Rarer Types Of Bipolar Disorder
There are two other types of the disorder that are less common than bipolar I and II. Cyclothymic disorder involves changes in mood and shifts similar to bipolar I and II, but the shifts are often less dramatic in nature. A person with cyclothymic disorder can often function normally without medication, though it may be hard. Over time, a persons changes in mood may develop into a diagnosis of bipolar I or II.
Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is a general category for a person who only has some symptoms of bipolar disorder. These symptoms are not enough to make a diagnosis of one of the other three types.
While bipolar disorder can be difficult to diagnose, once its identified, it can be treated.
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Sexual And Physical Abuse
Female patients of BD are more likely to report history of sexual abuse, which is associated with a worse course of this disorder, earlier age of onset, greater co-morbidity and a higher rate of suicidal attempts. Chandra et al., reported that Indian women with the psychiatric disorder also face sexual coercion and violence.
Bipolar Disorder In Children And Teens
Does your child go through extreme changes in mood and behavior? Does your child get much more excited or much more irritable than other kids? Do you notice that your child goes through cycles of extreme highs and lows more often than other children? Do these mood changes affect how your child acts at school or at home?
Some children and teens with these symptoms may have bipolar disorder, a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and day-to-day functioning. With treatment, children and teens with bipolar disorder can get better over time.
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Women And Bipolar Disorder
- Women and people with bipolar II disorder are significantly more likely to experience periods of rapid cycling than men with the same condition. . Depression, anxiety and perceived stress in women with and without PCOS: A community-based study. Psychological Medicine, 49)
- Other research findings indicate that women with bipolar disorder may have more depressive episodes and more mixed episodes than do men with the illness.
Bipolar Symptoms In Children: Presentation
Every childs symptoms differ, but during a manic phase, you may see signs like:
- Acting hyper, exuberantly happy, or incredibly silly behavior seemingly at random and in a way that is unusual to the childs personality
- Talking quickly or switching topics mid-sentence
- Hyperfocusing on a single subject or project that seems to come out of nowhere
- Erupting in extreme upset when obstacles arise or they are told no
- Highly imaginative coming up with complex storylines
- Angering quickly and becoming violent over small slights
- Not feeling tired or requiring much sleep, and showing little interest in napping, resting, or going to bed at night getting up frequently during the night
- Becoming preoccupied with sex or sexual thoughts talking about sex at inappropriate times
- Acting on sexual desires in public, dangerous, or age-inappropriate ways masturbating excessively or engaging in risky sex at a young age
- Seeing or hearing things that arent there
During a depressive phase, you might see symptoms like:
- Acting unusually weepy and sad
- Complaining of frequent stomachaches and headaches
- Sleeping longer than usual
- Eating too little or too much might gain or lose weight very rapidly
- Showing little interest in regular activities
- Talking about being a bad child, or wondering aloud if everyone hates them
- Becoming preoccupied with death talking about suicide or, for very young children, how it would be better for everyone if they went away forever or were never born
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Bipolar Disorder And Sexual Health
Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder. People who have bipolar disorder experience high levels of both euphoria and depression. Their moods can go from one extreme to the other.
Life events, medication, and drug misuse can trigger mania and depression. Both moods can last from a few days to a few months.
Bipolar disorder can also affect your sexuality and sexual activity.
During a manic episode, you may experience hypersexuality, or an increase in sexual activity. It may place you at an increased risk for actions that may have negative effects, such as contracting a sexually transmitted infection .
During a depressive episode, you may lose interest in sex. These sexual issues can create problems in relationships and may lower your self-esteem.
During a manic episode, your sex drive and sexual impulses can often lead to sexual behavior thats atypical for you when you arent experiencing episodes of mania.
Examples of hypersexuality during a manic episode can include:
- greatly increased sexual activity without a feeling of sexual satisfaction
- sex with multiple partners, including strangers
Hypersexuality can be a challenging symptom if you have bipolar disorder.
More studies that look at prevalence of this condition are needed.
A 2016 study published in Psychiatry Journal compared the sexual behavior of two groups:
- people with bipolar disorder who were treated as outpatients in private practice
- people treated as outpatients who didnt have affective disorder or schizophrenia
How Does Pregnancy Affect Bipolar Disorder
Women who have bipolar disorder are at risk for experiencing an episode after giving birth, especially a depressive episode. Women who experience a depressive or manic episode after giving birth are also more likely to have episodes after other pregnancies. Women with bipolar disorder are at high risk of developing , which is a medical emergency.
Talk to your doctor or nurse if you are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant. Some medicines are not safe to take during pregnancy.
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Bipolar Disorder And Suicide
The depressive phase of bipolar disorder is often very severe, and suicide is a major risk factor. In fact, people suffering from bipolar disorder are more likely to attempt suicide than those suffering from regular depression. Furthermore, their suicide attempts tend to be more lethal.
The risk of suicide is even higher in people with bipolar disorder who have frequent depressive episodes, mixed episodes, a history of alcohol or drug abuse, a family history of suicide, or an early onset of the disease.
Suicide warning signs include:
- Talking about death, self-harm, or suicide.
- Feeling hopeless or helpless.
What Is The Typical Age Of Onset Of Bipolar Disorder
Most cases of bipolar disorder commence when individuals are aged 1519 years. The second most frequent age range of onset is 2024 years. Some patients diagnosed with recurrent major depression may indeed have bipolar disorder and go on to develop their first manic episode when older than 50 years.
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Importance Of Early Identification Of A Disorder
The sooner someone is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the sooner effective treatment can be personalized for his or her condition. The problem that many of those whove suffered with undiagnosed bipolar disorder for years go through is that their denial of symptoms, or fear or shame about getting diagnosed with bipolar disorder, means that theyve needlessly reduced their quality of life. Rather than working toward life-affirming goals or enjoying relationships with loved ones and others, someone who hides their fear of having the disease relegates themselves to shuffling through life missing opportunities. Often, they stay isolated, shying away from friendships, masking their episodes or saying theyre just sad or happy.
Untreated bipolar disorder has another tragic statistic in that those with it are 50 times more likely to engage in self-harm than individuals in the general population. Also, those with bipolar disorder are 12 times more likely to commit suicide .
On the other hand, when someone with symptoms that may be bipolar disorder seeks help early, theyre being proactive and can get the assistance they need to learn how to manage and cope with bipolar.
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:
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Who Is Affected By Bipolar Disorder
- Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans, or about 2.6% of the U.S. population age 18 and older every year.
- The median age of onset for bipolar disorder is 25 years , although the illness can start in early childhood or as late as the 40s and 50s.
- An equal number of men and women develop bipolar illness and it is found in all ages, races, ethnic groups and social classes.
- More than two-thirds of people with bipolar disorder have at least one close relative with the illness or with unipolar major depression, indicating that the disease has a heritable component.
Coping With Bipolar Disorder
Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, but there are ways to help make it easier for yourself, a friend, or a loved one.
- Get treatment and stick with itrecovery takes time and its not easy. But treatment is the best way to start feeling better.
- Keep medical and therapy appointments, and talk with the provider about treatment options.
- Take all medicines as directed.
- Structure activities: keep a routine for eating and sleeping, and make sure to get enough sleep and exercise.
- Learn to recognize your mood swings.
- Ask for help when trying to stick with your treatment.
- Be patient improvement takes time. Social support helps.
Remember, bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, but long-term, ongoing treatment can help control symptoms and enable you to live a healthy life.
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What Are The Signs Of Bipolar In A Woman
Symptoms that are common in both men and women include:high or irritated mood.more energy and greater goal-driven activity.elevated self-esteem or grandiosity.reduced sleep.higher than usual frequency of talking.rapid speech flow and flights of ideas or racing thoughts.being easily distracted.More itemsAug 23, 2018
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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The Keys To Bipolar Disorder Self
Get educated. Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder. The more you know, the better youll be at assisting your own recovery.
Get moving. Exercise has a beneficial impact on mood and may reduce the number of bipolar episodes you experience. Aerobic exercise that activates arm and leg movement such as running, walking, swimming, dancing, climbing or drumming may be especially beneficial to your brain and nervous system.
Keep stress in check. Avoid high-stress situations, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and try relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing.
Seek support. Its important to have people you can turn to for help and encouragement. Try joining a support group or talking to a trusted friend. Reaching out is not a sign of weakness and it wont mean youre a burden to others. In fact, most friends will be flattered that you trust them enough to confide in them, and it will only strengthen your relationship.
Stay closely connected to friends and family. Nothing is as calming to the nervous system as face-to-face contact with caring supportive people who can just listen to you talk about what youre experiencing.
Make healthy choices. Healthy sleeping and eating habits can help stabilize your moods. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is particularly important.
Monitor your moods. Keep track of your symptoms and watch for signs that your moods are swinging out of control so you can stop the problem before it starts.
How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated In A Teen
Treatment will depend on your teens symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.
Treatment can often help a teen with bipolar disorder get better. But it will take time. Treatment may include one or more of the following:
Mood-stabilizing medicines or antidepressants
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Can Lifestyle Habits Increase The Risk Of Bipolar Disorder
Lack of sleep increases the risk of having an episode of mania in someone with bipolar disorder. In addition, antidepressants, particularly when taken as the only medication, may also trigger a switch into a manic state.
Excessive use of alcohol or drugs can also trigger bipolar symptoms. Research has shown that about 50% of bipolar sufferers have a substance abuse or alcohol problem. Sufferers often use alcohol or drugs in an effort to reduce unpleasant feelings during low mood periods, or as part of the recklessness and impulsivity associated with manic highs.
Age Of Onset And Gender Issues In Bipolar Disorder
How early in childhood can the first bipolar symptoms appear? And the impact of bipolar disorder on girls and women.
It is being increasingly recognized that bipolar disorder often has its onset in adolescence or early adulthood. First affective symptoms appear in early teenage, and even in preadolescence. There is a growing interest, with little consensus, in the affective and behavioral symptomatology in childhood and adolescence preceding the first onset of a clearly diagnosable bipolar disorder. There is a significant time-lag between the onset of the illness and first treatment. This may put patients at risk of increased morbidity, including effects on personality, school, work and social functioning. There is growing evidence in the schizophrenia literature that this time-lag may predict a poorer response to treatment. Although there is no clear evidence of this in bipolar disorder, this issue should be borne in mind.
Gender Issues Associated with Bipolar Disorder
About the author: Vivek Kusumakar, MD, FRCPC is an Associate Professor, Head of the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and Director, Mood Disorders Group, Dept of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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