Understanding Bipolar Disorder – Part 2 – Treatment and care.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder – Part 2 – Treatment and care.

Accepting that you have a problem, is half the battle won.

However, where mental illness is concerned, people stay in the denial mode way too long in the hope that the problem will vanish if they avoid dealing with it, and that is where they go wrong.

Accepting the truth, that Bipolar Disorder was a mental illness here to stay, was not only difficult, but also heartbreaking–it was an illness on which would depend quite a many decisions of our Life. But, no one said that Life would be a bed of roses! On the contrary, there are far fewer roses than there are thorns in our Life, isn’t it?

Last week, I shared a post on Causes and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. Today, I write about the treatment for Bipolar Disorder. 

ACCEPTANCE IS KEY:

Accept the fact that the illness is going to be a permanent part of your life. It isn’t easy doing so. It’s an everyday process. But, you really have no other choice!

A visit to a psychiatrist is the first thing to do instead of waiting to see if the symptoms die down with time. If you see your loved one unable to sleep or if you observe changes in their usual behaviour, DO NOT try to question them/argue or fight with them.

Set an appointment with a psychiatrist who will be able to make the right diagnosis and give the necessary treatment before things get out of hand.

If the aggressive, violent behaviour of the patient gets impossible to manage, he/she might have to get admitted to a hospital, where the first thing they would do is sedate the patient. DO NOT worry if they have to be restrained to the bed–it’s for their own good lest they harm either themselves or others.

The manic phase as well as the depressive phase can be really difficult for the patient as well as for the caregivers, but following the doctor’s instructions is imperative.

However much the patient objects to the restraining, the sedation or the treatment, know that it is for their own good. You, as a caregiver, will have to be strong and adamant, too, and only follow your doctor’s instructions.

TREATMENT:

A psychiatrist who diagnoses and treats mental illnesses is the one who will decide upon the treatment for Bipolar Disorder.

Once admitted to the hospital, the patient will be sedated. This helps calm them down. Sedation results in the patient sleeping for hours together (esp. after a manic phase).

The medications prescribed as part of treatment of Bipolar Disorder are:

Mood stabilisers

Anti-psychotics

Anti-anxiety medications

Anti-depressants

Finding the right medications for every patient takes some trial and error. At times, some medications work like a charm, and at times, they don’t give the desired effect.

As a caregiver, one needs to be extremely patient and bank on their support system for emotional, physical and financial help.

Medications take quite some time to show the desired effect. At times, in a matter of days, the patient exhibits flashes of normal behaviour, but, it takes months before the patient is completely healthy again.

Medications also have side effects that can bother the patient.

The speech is slurred because of the sedatives, the movements are slow and the mind, foggy. The patient often forgets why he or she has landed in the hospital and since when they have been there.

At times, they get argumentative and insist upon returning home, or discontinuing medications because of the side effects. Talking to the psychiatrist about it is a must instead of agreeing with the patient, lest the symptoms return and the patient experiences withdrawal symptoms and their condition worsens.

The patient might have to stay in the hospital for about a week or 10 days, until the doctor feels the patient is ready to leave.

Once home, the patient has to follow the prescribed regimen. Regular visits to the psychiatrists are to be followed.

Once the patient shows signs of good health, the doctor makes the necessary changes in the medications. And, once the doctor permits, the patient can return to their earlier schedule of work or schooling.

Appointments with the doctor and the prescribed medications have to be regulated strictly despite busy schedules or travel plans.

OTHER SIDE EFFECTS:

The other side effects the patient experiences are trembling of the hands, forgetfulness, sleepiness, weight gain. Talk to the doctor about these side effects.

CARE:

If the patient accepts that he/she has to deal with the illness for life and take the medications as per the doctor’s instructions without fail, then it becomes easy to deal with the problem.

As a caregiver, it’s paramount that you personally take it upon yourself to administer the medications to the patient.

Make it a part of your daily schedule and you won’t miss out on any dosage.

Fixing appointments with the doctor as per the doctor’s advice is also the caregiver’s responsibility, as is accompanying the patient to the clinic each time.

Make a note of the changes made in the dosage and follow the instructions to the T.

If the patient has travel plans, make sure you pack enough medications and label the packets clearly in pouches big enough not to be missed. Explain the patient about these medications and how they can not, and must not, miss any dose.

WHEN LIFE GETS BACK TO NORMAL:

Yes, it does! Once the patient’s moods are brought under control with the help of the medications, slowly and steadily, Life comes back to normal. The patient, who, sometime ago, displayed manic and depressive moods, transforms into his/her ‘original’ self.

The calm and collected, well-balanced person who is dedicated to his/her career/academics; who has a wonderful, beautiful, caring heart and a fantastic sense of humour; who cares deeply about the family who dotes upon him/her, is the person you see, by and by.

As the caregiver, all you need to do is:

Pay attention to the patient’s sleeping pattern (whether they are sleeping too much, or too less)

Observe their reaction to crisis or stressful situations.

Contact the doctor if their anxieties feel abnormally high.

Keep a close watch on their spending habits.

Make sure they take their medications on time everyday.

And, religiously follow the doctor’s advice.

 

Bipolar Disorder is one of the most treatable mental illnesses, provided you take quick action.

Anybody can become the victim of a mental illness. Accepting it, instead of ignoring it, is the first step towards dealing with it.

 

Take care,

 

Love,

SHILPA…

 

 

Understanding Bipolar Disorder – Part 1 – Causes and symptoms.

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?