Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression) – Types, Causes, Symptoms, Signs, Diagnosis, Treatment, Medications, Therapies

Mood swings that range from very mild to extreme forms give this depression its interesting name; Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar disorder or manic depression is basically a complex mood disorder that is characterised by alternate periods of clinical depression and maniac phase.

This complex genetic disorder differs from Major depression and Maniac phase. The mood swings may happen gradually over a period of few hours or it may occur rapidly within few minutes (rapid cycling).

Apart from dramatic mood swings, patients with bipolar disorder showcase disturbances in thinking, impairment in social functioning and distortions of perception.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are basically two subtypes of bipolar disorder including Bipolar I disorder and Bipolar II disorder.

Bipolar I disorder: Minimum one manic episode + with or without major depressive episodes

Bipolar II disorder: Minimum one episode of major depression + at least one hypomanic episode

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

The exact cause of Bipolar Disorder is not known. Researchers believe that genetic component has a role to play in causing Bipolar Disorder.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The symptoms of Bipolar Disorder include the symptoms related to Major Depression and symptoms related to Mania.

Symptoms of Major depression

  • Depressed mood
  • Lack of interest in activities that were once pleasurable
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Difficulty in sleeping
  • Excessive movement or slowing down
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of worthlessness or guilt
  • Difficulty in concentrating or making decisions
  • Suicidal thoughts

Symptoms of Mania with Bipolar Disorder

  • Racing thoughts
  • Extravagant notions
  • Inapt elation
  • Improper irritability
  • Feeling of Disconnected
  • Unsuitable social behaviour
  • Increased sexual desire
  • Increased talking speed
  • Markedly increased energy
  • Poor judgment
  • Severe insomnia

Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar Disorder II is also called as Hypomania and it is characterised by milder periods of elation.

It also exhibits episodes of mild or major depression.

As per the DSM-IV guidelines, the hypomania differs from mania in terms of “the degree of severity.”

Signs of Hypomania with Bipolar II Disorder

  • Increased energy and libido
  • Irresponsible behaviours
  • Extreme focus on projects at home
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Exuberant and elated mood
  • Extreme focus on projects at work
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased confidence
  • Risk-taking behaviours
  • Increased creativity

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

A psychiatrist will perform the following diagnostic procedures for Bipolar Disorder. There is no X-ray or laboratory test involved.

  • Full patient medical history/evaluation
  • personal and family psychiatric history
  • Physical Assessment
  • Thorough evaluation of symptoms

In some cases, doctors may recommend Lab tests for ruling out other serious illnesses. The early diagnosis and effective treatment helps a lot in treating bipolar disorder.

Moreover, doctors may ask you to consult with your family members for identifying the times when your mood was too high. Mania drastically affects thinking, ability to take correct decisions and social behaviour of the patient.

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

There are various treatment therapies available for treating Bipolar Disorder. The doctors usually employ the combination of various therapies to obtain the optimal results.

Medications

  • Antidepressants
  • Mood stabilizers such as lithium
  • Anticonvulsants, Antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines for stabilizing mood
  • Antidepressants with mood stabilizers for boosting the depressed mood
  • Stimulants for boosting the antidepressant drug action

Other Therapies

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy/ Psychotherapy
  • Physical exercise
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
  • Vagus nerve stimulation
  • Tran cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
  • Light therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Lifestyle and home remedies
  • Alternative medicine including Herbal remedies and supplements