Who Does Bipolar Disorder Affect
Bipolar disorder can affect anyone. The average age of onset is 25 years, but, more rarely, it can start as early as early childhood or as late as in your 40s or 50s.
Although bipolar disorder affects people assigned female at birth and people assigned male at birth in equal numbers, the condition tends to affect them differently.
People AFAB with bipolar disorder may switch moods more quickly. When people with bipolar disorder experience four or more manic or depressive episodes in a year, this is called rapid cycling. Varying levels of sex hormones and thyroid hormones, together with the tendency for people AFAB to be prescribed antidepressants, may contribute to the more rapid cycling in this population.
People AFAB with bipolar disorder may also experience more periods of depression than people AMAB.
Types Of Bipolar Disorder
Since symptoms can vary so much from person to person, bipolar disorder is often broken down into different types. The categories include:
Bipolar I Disorder . This is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness, characterized by at least one manic episode or mixed episode. Usuallybut not alwaysBipolar I Disorder also involves at least one episode of depression.
Bipolar II Disorder . In Bipolar II disorder, you don’t experience full-blown manic episodes. Instead, the illness involves episodes of hypomania and severe depression.
Cyclothymia . Cyclothymia is a milder form of bipolar disorder that consists of cyclical mood swings. However, the symptoms are less severe than full-blown mania or depression.
Unspecified or other types. If you experience symptoms that do not fit into another category, or they stem from another medical condition, such as substance abuse, your doctor may diagnose unspecified bipolar disorder.
What Is Bipolar Disorder In Teens
Bipolar disorder is a type of depression.
There are 3 main types of depression:
Persistent depressive disorder
A teen with bipolar disorder often has extreme mood swings. These mood swings go beyond the days normal ups and downs. A teen may have times of great elation, happiness, elevated mood, or irritability. This is called mania. These episodes are countered by periods of major depression. That is why this disorder has two poles or symptoms.
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Social Impact And Prejudice
Research confirms that the social, as well as the more clinical, effects of bipolar disorder can be different for females.
A concluded that females are more likely than males to face:
- stigma and isolation
- a loss of self-determination and a sense of a lack of control
- a lack of understanding from healthcare professionals and others
- pressure to appear normal or face consequences such as losing custody over children
Economic factors also influenced the experience of bipolar disorder among the study participants. Those who reported having a safe place to live and help with childcare and family responsibilities tended to manage better.
Participants with less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds and participants from marginalized groups, including Black Americans, were more likely to face abuse and experience other risk factors for psychosis. These participants were also more likely to work full-time and have full responsibility for caring for their families. A lack of support and safe living conditions, abuse, and other factors can increase the risk of severe symptoms of bipolar disorder and make the symptoms harder to manage.
Menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can influence how bipolar disorder affects females.
Avoiding Drugs And Alcohol
Some people with bipolar disorder use alcohol or illegal drugs to try to take away their pain and distress. Both have well-known harmful physical and social effects and are not a substitute for effective treatment and good healthcare.
Some people with bipolar disorder find they can stop misusing alcohol and drugs once they’re using effective treatment.
Others may have separate but related problems of alcohol and drug abuse, which may need to be treated separately.
Avoiding alcohol and illegal drugs is an important part of recovery from episodes of manic, hypomanic or depressive symptoms, and can help you gain stability.
Read more about alcohol misuse
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Bipolar Disorder Vs Major Depression
You may have heard of people who were first diagnosed with depression but later diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and this can be confusing. How can you tell the difference? Keep in mind that the hallmark of bipolar disorder is the presence of episodes of mania or hypomania. These are not present in major depression.
Another common question that’s asked is “Can depression turn into bipolar disorder?” The answer to that question is no, depression doesn’t transition into bipolar disorder later on.
However, it is possible for someone to be diagnosed while they are in the depressive phase, which may result in a diagnosis of depression. At the time, they may not recall or be asked about symptoms of mania or hypomania that would lead to a bipolar diagnosis. Later on, with more careful questioning, or with the occurrence of a manic or hypomanic episode, the diagnosis of bipolar may become clear.
How Is Manic Depression Diagnosed
Physicians have developed special skills for use in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. The most effective diagnosis for bipolar depression involves an open and detailed conversation with an expert. They will inquire about the changes in your moods coupled with your reactions such as unusual irritability, increased energy and sleep disorders.
The doctors may do tests to check your abilities to comprehend things, reason and express yourself. A psychiatrist will seek more details about any member of your family who suffered mental related sicknesses including bipolar depression.
Information like the severity of the symptoms and duration are noted down to assist in the evaluation and the mode of treatment to apply.
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Resources For Family And Friends
The mission of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is to educate, support, and help people living with a mood disorder and the people closest to them. This community-like website offers in-person and online support groups, as well as videos, programs, and a Wellness Toolbox for family and friends.
Symptoms Of Manic Episodes
Episodes of mania and hypomania are prevalent features of bipolar disorder. While the signs of mania may at first be a pleasant diversion from the dark depressive episodes, the manic phase can also be destabilizing and self-destructive.
- Racing thoughts and difficulty staying focused, easily distracted
- Impulsive behaviors, using poor judgment
- Risky behaviors, such as substance use or sexual promiscuity
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How Can I Help My Teen Live With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder has no cure. But over time, your teens symptoms will get better. Being supportive and patient can help. Here are things you can do to help:
Keep all appointments with your teens healthcare provider.
Take part in family therapy as needed.
Talk with your teens healthcare provider about other providers who will be involved in your teens care. Your teen may get care from a team that may include school staff, counselors, therapists, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Your teens care team will depend on his or her needs and how serious the depression is.
Tell others about your teens bipolar disorder. Work with your teens healthcare provider and schools to create a treatment plan.
Reach out for support. Being in touch with other parents who have a teen with bipolar disorder may be helpful. If you feel overwhelmed or stressed out, talk with your teens healthcare provider about a support group for caregivers of people with bipolar disorder.
Take all symptoms of depression, mania, and suicide very seriously. Get treatment right away. Suicide is a health emergency. Talk with your teens healthcare provider for more information. Find out who to contact, and what to do if your teen has suicidal thoughts. Have an emergency plan in place.
The Keys To Bipolar Disorder Self
Get educated. Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder. The more you know, the better you’ll 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. It’s 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 won’t mean you’re 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 you’re 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.
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Manic Symptoms In Children
Symptoms of mania in children can include:
- acting very silly and feeling overly happy
- talking fast and rapidly changing subjects
- having trouble focusing or concentrating
- doing risky things or experimenting with risky behaviors
- having a very short temper that leads quickly to outbursts of anger
- having trouble sleeping and not feeling tired after sleep loss
When Should I Call My Teens Healthcare Provider
Feels extreme depression, fear, anxiety, or anger toward him or herself or others
Feels out of control
Hears voices that others dont hear
Sees things that others dont see
Cant sleep or eat for 3 days in a row
Shows behavior that concerns friends, family, or teachers, and others express concern about this behavior and ask you to seek help
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Bipolar Disorder Symptoms In Women Vs Men
Men and women are diagnosed with bipolar disorder in roughly equal numbers. However, the main symptoms of the disorder may vary, depending on both sex you were assigned at birth and your gender.
Women with bipolar disorder tend to receive diagnoses later in life, often in their 20s or 30s. In some cases, they might first notice symptoms during pregnancy or after childbirth. Theyre also more likely to be diagnosed with bipolar II than bipolar I.
Additionally, women with bipolar disorder tend to experience:
- milder episodes of mania
- more depressive episodes than manic episodes
- rapid cycling, or 4 or more episodes of mania and depression in 1 year
- more co-occurring conditions
Women with bipolar disorder may also experience relapse more often, which may happen in part due to hormone changes related to menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. In terms of bipolar disorder, relapse means having a mood episode after not having one for some time.
Men with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, may:
- get a diagnosis earlier in life
- experience less frequent but more severe episodes, especially manic episodes
- be more likely to also have a substance use disorder
- show more aggression during episodes of mania
Sudden Changes In Energy
It is one thing to have a sudden rush of energy it is an another when the energy is relentless, prolonged, and overwhelming. As with mood changes, the sudden upshot of energy would not be considered normal and can switch off as quickly as it was switched on.
Symptoms may include:
- A decreased need for sleep with little apparent fatigue
- A sudden increase in goal-oriented activities
- Persistent and often purposeless movement
- Restlessness and an inability to remain still
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Learning To Recognise Triggers
If you have bipolar disorder, you can learn to recognise the warning signs of an approaching episode of mania or depression.
A community mental health worker, such as a psychiatric nurse, may be able to help you identify your early signs of relapse from your history.
This will not prevent the episode occurring, but it’ll allow you to get help in time.
This may mean making some changes to your treatment, perhaps by adding an antidepressant or antipsychotic medicine to the mood-stabilising medication you’re already taking.
Your GP or specialist can advise you on this.
What Does Manic Depression Mean
Manic depression is an older term for what is now referred to as bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder, which is the official terminology used in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders“ , is a reference to a person’s swings from the manic pole of the disorder to the depressive pole.
The change from “manic depression” to “bipolar disorder” was made in 1980. It was done to include symptoms such as hypomania and exclude some others while attempting to reduce the stigma associated with the disorder.
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Stable Or Neutral Periods
It’s common to have stable or neutral periods in between episodes. This doesn’t mean that you have no emotions during this time. It means that you’re not currently experiencing , or , or that you’re managing your symptoms effectively.
You might find you feel stable for years in between episodes. Or your periods of stability might be much shorter.
Stable periods can feel like a relief. But they can also feel challenging in their own way. You may feel:
- Happy, calm or relieved
- Worried about becoming unwell again
- Embarrassed or guilty about things you did or said when you were unwell
- Like you have lots to sort out or catch up on
- Like you have to ‘get back to normal life’ straight away
- That you miss elements of your life or personality from when you were unwell
- Unsure about whether to or other treatment
It’s a lot harder coming to terms with being stable than I could have imagined. I’ve had to struggle with a ‘new’ identity and way of life after spending so many years thinking the ups and downs of bipolar are ‘normal’.
Key Points About Bipolar Disorder In Teens
Bipolar disorder is a type of depression. A teen with this disorder often has abnormal mood swings that shift between depression and mania.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. But it tends to run in families.
A teen must have both depressive and manic symptoms to a varying degree to be diagnosed with the disorder.
A mental health provider makes a diagnosis after a mental health evaluation.
Treatment may include medicine and talk therapy.
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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.
Helpful Resources For Bipolar
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services has a free, confidential 24/7 National Helpline for 365-day-a-year information and referrals with services in English and Spanish for families facing mental health and substance use disorders. 1-800-662-HELP .
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a free hotline at 1-800-273-TALK . The toll-free TTY number is 1-800-799-4TTY . You also can text the Crisis Text Line or go to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Or, simply call or text 988 to reach the crisis lifeline.
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance offers online support groups, in-person support groups, and youth support groups.
International Bipolar Association Crisis Line 1-800-273-TALK in the US, or view their list of international hotlines.
Center for Clinical Interventions has workbooks, work sheets, and information sheets available to learn more about bipolar disorders, list and track symptoms, and learn about managing your illness.
Stats from DBSA:
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Symptoms Of Depressive Episodes
Depressive episodes can also emerge without warning. Some of the triggers for these depressive periods include lack of sleep, excessive stress, or a negative life event, but often there is no known cause for the depression. The depressive episodes must be carefully monitored, as there is an increased risk of suicidal behavior during these phases.
- Feelings of despair and hopelessness
- Intense fatigue
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Chronic pain with no known medical cause
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts