What is the Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder was earlier also termed as Manic Depression. It is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings. The person suffers from extreme feelings of emotional highs i.e. mania or hypomania and lows i.e. depression. The actual cause of bipolar disorder is not yet known. It is found out to be a result of a combination of factors such as an altered brain structure, environment, chemistry and genetics.

Symptoms Associated with Bipolar Disorder

The Manic phase feature symptoms such as high energy, loss of touch with reality and loss of sleep. Whereas the Depressive phase features symptoms of low motivation, no interest in doing daily activities and overall feeling of low energy. These mood swings exist over a persons’ entire lifetime; and can last between days to months and are accompanied by self-destructive and suicidal thoughts.

There are various types of Bipolar Disorders and conditions related to them. Symptoms can cause unpredictable changes in behaviour and mood, causing major distress and difficulty in life. The symptoms for each that you will see in each type of disorders is as seen below:

Bipolar I Disorder -

You have been through at least one high energy i.e. a manic episode that was probably preceded or followed by a major depressive phase. In certain cases, Mania may result in a trigger and cause a break from the real world. This is called psychosis.

Bipolar II Disorder -

You have experienced at least one extremely depressive phase and one hypomanic phase, but not gone through even a single manic phase.

Cyclothymic Disorder -

You have experienced at least 2 years during your childhood or teenage years with several phases of hypomania symptoms and periods of depressive symptoms. Although the intensity is not as high as that of depression.

Other Types -

These comprise of bipolar and other related disorders induced by specific drugs or alcohol. It can also be caused due to a mental condition, For example, Cushing's disease, stroke and multiple sclerosis.

Bipolar II disorder is not related to Bipolar I disorder nor is it the milder version of the latter. It has a separate diagnosis. The manic phases of bipolar I disorder can be very impactful and dangerous, People suffering from Bipolar disorder II go through severe depression and have traumatic mental conditions.

A person can develop Bipolar Disorder at any age, although it is, mostly diagnosed in teenage years or early ’20s. Symptoms vary over a period of time and vary from person to person.

How can it be Prevented during Childhood?

It has been found that most people develop the disorder in their late adolescence or young adulthood. Genetics surely play a role in a person’s vulnerability to bipolar disorder as researchers have proven this by tracing back incidences among other family members across generations

It is possible to at least detect early symptoms during a persons’ teenage years by observing any abnormal or unusual behaviour in children. If you observe that your child is extremely happy for a couple of days, filled with energy and then see them feeling extremely low and sad for a couple of days and this continues for a prolonged period, it is a warning sign.

Detecting early symptoms can prove to be beneficial in the long run. Visiting a doctor with your child regularly can allow you the required time to monitor your childs’ mood swings and medication effects. This will also prevent the illness from escalating.  Although there is no medications or cure that can completely eradicate bipolar disorder, prevention of further mood swings and control over symptoms can be achieved to ensure your child can live a fulfilling life.

Some treatment options for Bipolar Disorders are as below:

Family- Focused Therapy:

Family-focused therapy (FFT) for adult and childhood bipolar disorder is based on the assumption that there is negativity in the family and things are not going well. Caring for an already affected patient and spending a lot of time with them can also cause children to become more vulnerable to bipolar disorders.

FFT has three key objectives:

  1. To assist family members in recognizing and detecting early signs and symptoms of the disorder.
  2. To help parents understand their child’s or family members state of mind and not criticize or fight with them.
  3. To enable the person suffering with the disorder better cope with the condition. This is achieved through the following treatment modules:

⦁ Psychoeducation for the patient and family members: This focuses on evaluating and helping the patient and family members better understand the root cause, the journey, the entire treatment process and self-assessment of the disorder.

⦁ Enhanced communication training to help the family members and the patient communicate better and work in unison towards tackling extreme mood swings.

⦁ Problem solving skills sessions, to help the parents handle different situations and handle family issues in a better manner, to enable the affected person feeling less vulnerable.

What kind of Food should be Consumed to Prevent Bipolar Disorder?

There is no specific diet chart or regime to prevent bipolar disorder. However to keep progressing and leading the healthiest life possible, the following can be done:

⦁   Avoid consuming food items rich in trans fats, saturated fats and carbohydrate. Try and avoid red meat as much as possible. Avoiding foods rich in these nutrients will not prevent the disorder, but will allow you lead a healthy life

⦁ Eating food rich in nutrients and maintaining a balance between all nutrients is advised. Food items such as fresh vegetables, fruits, pulses, legumes, dairy products with low fat content, wheat are nutrient rich and lead to a balanced diet. Healthy food also helps you avoid various fatal lifestyle diseases.

⦁ Regular exercise is also advised in addition to your diet. Being physically fit is equally important to eating right. It has been found that obese or overweight people are more prone to developing Bipolar Disorder.

When should you See a Doctor?

Despite extreme mood swings and phases of highs and lows, people often don’t realise the actual emotions they are going through. The impact that they are having on their family members or friends is also something they may not notice. This can cause complications in dealing with the disorder. Education is needed to ensure patients and family members seek medical help timely.

Some people who suffer from bipolar disorder experience feelings of happiness and the need to always be productive, However, this phase is always backed by an emotional explosion, which leaves them depressed and drained out. It also may result in family issues, relationship troubles or legal problems. If you have symptoms of depression or experience severely low periods, see your doctor or mental health professional.

Bipolar disorder does not get better on its own. Visiting a mental health professional is extremely important. Their experience and skills can help you get the symptoms under control.

How can you Prevent it?

⦁ Pay attention to signs, patterns, changed behaviour and extreme mood swings

⦁ Avoid the consumption of alcohol and drugs as much as possible.

⦁ Take your medications as prescribed by your mental health professional or psychotherapist.

⦁ At PsychOnline we can render the right psychiatric care for Bipolar disorders. Care can be accessed from anywhere, on a schedule that’s convenient for the patient. No more travelling or waiting in doctors’ offices. Make an appointment at any time of day and simply connect to our professionals via a secure and easy video conferencing solution.

If you are mental health provider, PsychOnline can work with you to develop a customized program around treatment of Bipolar Disorders (or any other mental health condition that you treat)  which will help you grow or enhance your practice in a patient friendly way. For more information, please email us at [email protected]e.com.

If you are seeking professional help for your mental health, PsychOnline has a group of therapists, psychiatrists & psychologists who are here to help. Please contact us at [email protected] or 617-909-4766 to get help.