Bipolar disorder, previously called manic depression, is a mood disorder. It affects 45 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. In recent years, a number of celebrities have talked about their challenges being bipolar, including Catherine Zeta-Jones, Brian Wilson, Mariah Carey, and Carrie Fisher, but what are the symptoms?
What are the symptoms?
It’s a condition where people experience extreme shifts in moods. Bipolar disorder can cause depression, loss of concentration, and anxiety. It will also manifest as periods of excess energy, euphoria, grandiosity, impulsivity, hypersexuality, and insomnia.
More energy and feeling great may sound like a plus, but as Dr. Dana Wang explains, “A myth surrounding the disorder is that these periods of high mood are benign, but in fact, they tend to be disorganized and are quite damaging to the brain.”
What causes bipolar disorder?
Doctors don’t know what exactly causes bipolar disorder. Periods of high stress, a genetic disposition, and perhaps environmental factors, can be the perfect storm to trigger an onset. Bipolar disorder usually begins to present in late teens and early adulthood, and can sometimes be familial.
What are the different types of bipolar disorder?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM, lists five types of mood disorders:
- Bipolar I – at least one manic episode lasting seven days or more, or mania that requires hospitalization.
- Bipolar II – at least one hypomanic episode; mania accompanied by depression.
- Cyclothymic Disorder – features hypomanic and depressive symptoms in rapid cycles that can last two or more years in adults and aren’t wholly manic or depressive.
- & 5. Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorder –when you experience a mood disorder episode that doesn’t wholly fit into the above categories, but are still clinically significant or abnormal.
What are the available treatments?
If you notice yourself or a loved one experiencing rapid mood swings, talk to your doctor. “If untreated, bipolar disorder will tend to become more rapid, cycling between moods and difficult to treat,” says Dr. Wang, “so early diagnosis is helpful.” Many treatments, including CBT and psychotherapy, are successfully used to manage symptoms and help those affected experience less acute highs and lows.