Understanding Bipolar Disorder – Part 1 – Causes and symptoms.

May being the Mental Health Awareness Month, I am doing a two-part post on Bipolar Disorder–a mental illness I have witnessed from close quarters and learned to deal with over the years.

Bipolar disorder:

Meaning:

As the name suggests, Bipolar Disorder is an illness that alternates between extreme depression on the one hand, and extreme euphoria on the other.The mood swings, the energy levels and the activity of a patient oscillates between extreme highs and extreme lows that makes leading a normal life immensely difficult.

If left untreated, it can play havoc with a person’s Life, career, relationships and overall health.

The episodes of extreme elation, or manic episodes as they are called, can leave the patient sleepless, hyperactive and extremely positive and outgoing.

The episodes of depression, on the other hand, can leave the patient feeling totally negative, with no energy or enthusiasm about anything in Life. It can also make the patient suicidal.

Causes:

Bipolar disorder does not have a particular cause.

It could be genetic, in that, it could turn up in a person who has a family member ailing from the illness.

It could happen as a result of chemical imbalances in the brain.

And, it could also emerge as a result of hormonal imbalances, or circumstances, like, unbearable stress or a traumatic incident that could trigger the extreme mood swings.

Symptoms:

The mood swings related to Bipolar are very unlike the mood swings others experience every once in a while. While a mentally healthy person can get over his/her moods, patients of Bipolar find it difficult to get a handle on their moods.

Their mood swings are severe and they experience either a euphoria (manic phase), hypomania, or a serious bout of depression during an episode.

The manic phase is when it gets tremendously difficult managing the patient as their energy levels are uncontrollably high, as is their aggression.

They find it difficult to focus on one particular task and keep flitting about from one task to another.

The patient has grandiose plans for his/her life. They think big, as in, planning to buy a huge house, or a costly gadget, a high-end vehicle, in short, anything that exudes extravagance.

Patients in the manic phase often avoid reporting to work or school/college.

They are aggressive, angry, and can lose their temper for the minutest of issues.

They go on a spending spree and (in the words of a Bipolar patient) a Rs 500 note resembles a Rs 5 note, which encourages them to squander it away without a thought. In short, they spend recklessly.

Their confidence levels are at an all-time high, which results in the grand plans and squandering. Their speech is clearly not normal and they speak rapidly and in a loud voice.

They find it difficult to sit still in a place and get excessively restless.

They also find it difficult to sleep and find a mere couple hours of sleep enough.

They also experience hallucinations, and fear that the people around are trying to harm them.

They might display signs of Multiple Personality Disorder and/or schizophrenia while in the manic phase.

Indulgence in drugs, alcohol and smoking is also high in this phase, and any amount of cajoling them to slow down only has a negative effect.

At times, they also experience a high libido, which could lead to promiscuous behaviour.

The depression phase either precedes the manic phase or succeeds it.

The patient in a depressive state finds no meaning in Life.

He spends a lot of time in bed, sleeping away the hours.

No activity excites him and nothing you do can change their mood.

They feel helpless, hopeless, depressed, and despair over everything.

Because of the hopelessness, they worry immensely about every little thing.

Having lost interest in Life, they also find it difficult to eat and, as a result, lose weight and energy.

In the depressive state, too, they find it difficult to attend to their work or studies and prefer staying cooped up in their room. An atmosphere of gloom hangs heavy in their surroundings during this phase.

There is a high chance of suicide in this state if the patient doesn’t receive timely help and treatment.

Although Bipolar Disorder DOES NOT have a cure, all of the above symptoms can be treated with medications, therapy and counselling.

I have witnessed my hubby exhibiting most of the above symptoms when in both the phases–manic and depressive–hence, this post is based on what I have experienced as a care-giver.

In the next part, I will discuss the treatment and care for a Bipolar Disorder patient, which I will be sharing next Friday.

So, do visit Metanoia to know how you can look after your close ones if they are diagnosed with the illness.

Love,

SHILPA..

What causes Bipolar Disorder and what are its symptoms?

30 thoughts on “Understanding Bipolar Disorder – Part 1 – Causes and symptoms.”

    1. I hope this information helps somebody out there, Sunita.
      I remember how helpless I felt on discovering how my life had changed over night and I didn’t even know whom to and for guidance. 😦

      Like

  1. You know, reading this makes me sad that there are people who go through such a difficult phase. being aware of it would make a world of difference as in at least we can take the necessary help from a doctor. Honestly, after reading this I suspect that if someone I know is a victim of bipolar disease. Thanks for sharing, Shilpa.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Vini! It made me sad too just thinking about all the health conditions people suffer from. But, I have realised that this is Life and there will always be some or other problem. All we can do is face it bravely.

      Like

  2. This is a very useful post, Shilpa! A dear one suffers from this and I know how difficult it can be dealing with this condition. I’m so glad you’re sharing your knowledge here which will come in extremely handy for many who have no one to turn to, especially when they encounter this for the very first time. I think getting the patient diagnosed and accept this condition itself is quite a huge challenge and then comes the treatment that is usually life-long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Acceptance is the first step towards progress, Esha. And, once the patient and their family accept that there is a problem which will need treatment all through Life, it becomes easier to manage it all.

      Hugs, dear girl!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Knowing u for so long, I know u having taken the utmost care n all minute details. Ur priorities HD changed. Hats off to u. Super power girl.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rakhee, I am no super power girl, dear. I just conditioned myself to accept life as it is and face whatever comes my way. I do get panicky even today, but I am trying to change it.
      And frankly we all are superpower girls, right?

      Thank you so much for dropping by Metanoia. It’s such a pleasant surprise!!

      Like

  4. Thank you for this comprehensive look at bipolar disorder. It’s so important to educate the public! One of my closest friends suffers from it, so I’m familiar with the symptoms. I can appreciate the difficulties you must face on a regular basis, Shilpa and wish you strength.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Debbie!
      Yes, Life is tough, but I have learned that regular medications can help a lot, as also finding the perfect psychiatrist. We are blessed to have one. πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. So many people misunderstand what BPAD actually is and confuse Borderline Personality Disorder as being BPAD. I like that you included the manic stages which are essential to Bipolar and last longer than a few hours. It must be tough to live with someone experiencing the highs and lows of BPAD so wishing you all the strength in the world and I know you’re good now and thinking about self-care too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many people are completely unaware of mental illnesses, like I was when it all began years ago. Back then, I craved for support from people who had experienced it too, but did not find any. That’s the reason I wrote about BPD. Hope someone finds this useful.

      Thank you, Sanch!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for writing this post on Bipolar disorder. I believe not much is known about this illness and your post should be helpful to people in understanding what a patient of this disorder goes through. A life of a caregiver is never easy but to be a caregiver for a patient undergoing any form of mental illness is much more difficult. I always admire you and your strength for accepting and dealing with it rather than turning yourself away from it as most people in similar circumstances do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True, Anu. Most people don’t want a lifetime of caring for a patient with a mental illness and that is sad, indeed. The one thing that my parents told me was, we had decided to be together through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, and how broken I would have been had I discovered an illness I suffered from and hubby left me!
      I am just glad I stayed…although, during the toughest of times, I did wonder why I stayed, but then, good sense returned and made me realise. πŸ™‚

      Like

  7. All I can say is that you are courageous and loving . Looking after β€˜normal’ people can itself be a task and looking after someone who cannot control his/her moods is really a challenge. But as you said, acceptance is one step towards dealing with a situation and that is a hard road to go down too .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Sunita. Looking after anybody can be tough, but looking after people with an illness ….now that’s something really really difficult.
      Thanks so much, dear! We really ought to catch up someday…it’s been quite some time since we spoke last, isn’t it?

      Like

  8. A friend’s husband suffered from Bipolar Disorder, and coupled with alcoholism it was very difficult and they ultimately divorced. However, this was over 20 years ago and she only realized that he had the illness after he was on his way out.
    Your husband is blessed to have you in his life. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Patients suffering from Bipolar Disorder indulge in drugs, alcohol and smoking and ruin their physical health, too. But they are really not in a position to understand that.

      I can imagine how your friend must have felt seeing her husband abusing himself the way he did. Back then, there was no awareness at all about this illness. Even now, although mental health professionals are doing their best to spread awareness, not everyone is aware about it nor has any idea what the patient and his family goes through.
      Thanks Corinne!

      Like

  9. You are one tough cookie Shilpa I hope you know that. Just loved this post as its so well researched and detailed out. I pray that your strength never falters for this is no easy task – your partner is one lucky dude to have you in his life!!!

    Hugs and love

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww…thanks so much Shalz!
      I wasn’t as strong when we started out and when I discovered certain facts of life. But, with time and the help of my doctor, I have realised there’s no point worrying or fearing an illness.

      yeah, my partner is sure a lucky guy to have me!! Sometimes, it does feel good patting your own back, isn’t it?

      Love!

      Like

    1. You sure are on a blog-hopping spree, Vidya!

      Yes, any illness, be it mental or physical, it can sap the energy as well as hope of not just the patient but also the caregiver. It’s tough…but I just remember to be grateful for all I have.

      Thank you so much, dear! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes, it does! And, it’s only with experience that we realised that despite all that’s going wrong in our life, we have so much to be thankful for!
        Hugs!

        Like

Leave a Reply to writershilpa Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.