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Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder: All That You Need to Know

Bipolar disorder historically referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is a type of mental illness where a person experiences extreme mood shifts that can be disruptive. The time period of shifts in mood varies from person to person and leads to abnormal changes in the energy and activity levels, impacting the ability to perform regular tasks. Read further to understand more about bipolar disorder.

Overview of Bipolar Disorder

  • The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that about 5.7 million American adults are affected by bipolar disorder in a given year which is roughly 2.6% of the adult U.S. population of 18 years and above.

  • According to a recent study by Columbia University, there is a dramatic rise in detected cases of bipolar disorder in children, teens, and adults. Males and females are impacted equally but males are more prone to an earlier onset.

  • Bipolar disorder is not very common as compared to depression and impacts 1 in a 100 individuals. There is lack of adequate information about the real causes of bipolar disorder.

  • The NIMH declares bipolar disorder as an inherited illness. It’s been observed that above two-thirds of the bipolar population are closely related with a person(s) suffering from the illness or other major depression types.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are 3 categories of bipolar disorder and each of them involve a distinct shift in mood, energy, and activity levels. These moods vary from a duration of highly elevated, elated and energized activities (called manic episodes) to very gloomy, or hopeless periods (called depressive episodes). Less serious manic episodes are called as hypomanic episodes.

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder is demarcated by periods where there is minimum one manic episode or integrated episodes. The episodes may or may not include depression. However, it often involves at least one depressive episode in patients.

Bipolar II Disorder

This is distinctly categorized by periods where there are either single or multiple instances of severe depression and at least a single hypomanic occurrence. A hypomanic condition is less intense than a manic one.


It’s also referred to as cyclothymic disorder and is a moderate type of bipolar disorder. It comprises of cyclical mood swings. A patient endures several mood disturbances, with rounds of hypomanic indication which may relate to periods of mild depression.

In order to detect the kind of bipolar disorder, a doctor must keep a record on how promptly a patient shuttles between manic episodes of depression and reverses back, along with the severity level of the symptoms.

Bipolar Disorder in Children

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has estimated that approximately one-third of the 3.4 million children and teen population in the United States, suffering from depression may, in reality, be undergoing the early start of bipolar disorder. Children diagnosed with bipolar disorder are at a higher risk for anxiety disorders and ADHD( attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). The combined effect of these co-occurring disorders make the diagnosis of bipolar disorder complicated and lead to the lack of identification of the disease in children.

Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorder

According to experts, a lot of factors contribute to the bipolar disorder disease or increase its risk including:


Some studies have discovered that occasionally, bipolar disorder can be the outcome of genetic factors too. Until recently there is no identification of the genes causing this problem.


Excessive stress in life can also contribute to bipolar disorder. Stress can cause drastic or abrupt shifts in the mood which can induce this kind of problem.

Hormonal Imbalance

The chances of developing bipolar disorder increase with hormonal imbalances occurring inside the body.

Brain Alterations

The neurotransmitter, which facilitates the exchanges between brain cells, can lead to bipolar disorder due to an imbalance in it.

Apart from these factors, traumatic event, sleep loss, abnormal thyroid function and many other factors also contribute to bipolar disorder.

When to See a Doctor

Understanding the symptoms of bipolar disorder which involves mood episodes, including mania and depression, can be a significant initiative towards seeking treatment and aid for yourself or a loved one. Symptoms also can incorporate changes in sleeping, energy level, attention, eating, and other behaviors.

A manic episode must consist of at least three out of the symptoms including:

  • Increased talkativeness
  • Increased self-esteem or grandiosity
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Increase in energy level, or irritability
  • Racing thoughts
  • Poor attention

A person who has undergone 5 or more of the symptoms given below may be suffering from a depressive episode:

  • Depressed mood
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in eating
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Loss of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
  • Restlessness or slowing down
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Indecision or difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Increased risk-taking

Treatment Bipolar Disorder

There is no permanent treatment for bipolar disorder, but it can be controlled with medication. Some lifestyle modifications may also help, such as decreasing stress level and getting enough sleep.

Expert recommended the following treatments for bipolar disorder:

  • Mood stabilizers that manage manic or hypomanic episodes
  • Antipsychotics in association with mood stabilizers in case of failure of other treatments
  • Antidepressants to control depressive episodes
  • A combined antidepressant-antipsychotic cure for depressive episodes in bipolar I condition
  • Antianxiety medications to minimize anxiety and improve sleep
  • Psychotherapy, or talking therapies, to understand about mood, senses, thoughts, and conducts
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), involving passing of currents through the brain to improve severe mania or depression
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation, in which magnetically stimulate nerve cells provide relief from symptoms of depression

Newport Family Medicine, located in Newport Beach, CA, offers full-service family practice from pregnancy through childhood and adulthood to maturity. We provide comprehensive health care for people of all age groups.

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