Bipolar Disorder – Causes, Risk factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention

(Manic depressive illness, Manic depression, Manic disorder, Manic affective disorder)

What is Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition marked by extreme changes in mood, energy and the ability to function. The mood swings caused by bipolar disorder are more serious than normal ups and downs. They can ruin relationships and hurt performance at work or at school. Bipolar disorder can be treated. If you think you have this problem, contact your doctor.

The two extremes of bipolar disorder are mania and depression. In mania, one of the defining symptoms is an increase in energy and a decrease in the need to sleep. The mood can be extremely happy or irritable. In depression, the bad mood dominates with fatigue, which is often accompanied by irritability.

There are four forms of this condition:

  1. Bipolar disorder I: recurrent episodes of mania followed immediately by depression; the episodes can be serious.
  2. Bipolar disorder II: episodes of less severe mania (called hypomania) that alternate with episodes of greater depression.
  3. Bipolar disorder not specified: the person has symptoms of bipolar disorder (eg, acts in a strange way with respect to their normal behavior), but the symptoms do not meet the specific criteria of bipolar I or II.
  4. Cyclothymia: episodes of hypomania that alternate with episodes of mild depression lasting at least two years.

Bipolar Disorder Causes

The cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. This condition tends to run in families. It may be due to certain specific genes. Most likely, it is due to the combination of many different genes.

Bipolar Disorder Risk factors

Having a family history of the disorder increases the likelihood of developing it. If you have a family member with bipolar disorder, tell the doctor.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms include:

Dramatic mood swings: this can range from euphoric excitability, unrealistic goal setting, and an exaggerated sense of self to feelings of hopelessness.

  • Periods of normal mood between the ups and downs
  • Extreme changes in energy and behavior

Symptoms of mania include:

  • Extremely “high” or too good mood
  • Greater energy and effort put into activities with specific objectives
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Assiduous thoughts, jumping from one idea to another
  • Speak quickly or try to keep talking
  • Concentration problems
  • Less need to sleep
  • Too much confidence or very high self-esteem
  • Lack of judgment, which is often related to excessive spending or sexual indiscretions

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Sadness, hopelessness or lack of encouragement for a long time
  • Feelings of guilt, uselessness or impotence
  • Lack of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, such as sex
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Problems concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Inability to relax or decrease movements
  • Agitation
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Losing weight or losing weight
  • Think about death or suicide with or without suicide attempts

Serious episodes of mania or depression can sometimes be related to psychotic symptoms, such as:

  • Hallucinations
  • Tricks
  • Thought disorders

Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. In some cases, laboratory tests may be ordered to rule out other causes of the symptoms. You may be referred to a mental health specialist. The diagnosis of bipolar disorder is based on:

  • The presence of certain symptoms over time
  • Absence of other causes, such as some medications and certain conditions
  • Family history of bipolar disorder

Hobby is diagnosed when:

  • The mood is elevated and there are three or more manic symptoms (mentioned above).
  • If the mood is irritable, not elevated, four symptoms must be presented in order to diagnose mania.
  • Symptoms last most of the day, almost every day, for a week or longer.
  • The symptoms cause problems in daily functioning.

An episode of depression is diagnosed when:

  • There are five or more symptoms of depression (mentioned above)
  • Symptoms last most of the day, almost every day, for a period of two weeks or longer
  • The symptoms cause problems in daily functioning.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Ask your doctor about the best plan for you.


The primary treatment is with medications called mood stabilizers. There are many different types and combinations of medications, which the doctor must adjust to focus on their symptoms. Some examples of medications commonly used to treat bipolar disorder include:

  • Lithium: the oldest mood stabilizer, which is often used as an initial treatment (helps prevent manic and depressive episodes from coming back).
  • Anticonvulsant medications: they are also used as mood stabilizers instead of lithium or in combination with it.
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • Valproate (Depakote)
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol)

Other drugs that can be used to help treat mood problems in bipolar disorder include:

  • Benzodiazepines: a potentially addictive class of medications that can be used to treat agitation or insomnia, often in a short-term period.
  • Antidepressants: used to treat depression, usually prescribed in combination with a mood stabilizer, such as lithium.
  • Antipsychotic medications: are used in case of acute manic or mixed episodes and as maintenance treatment.

The plan is based on the characteristics of the disease. It is possible that the treatment should continue indefinitely. You should avoid significant changes in mood.


Psychotherapy is usually an integral component of a comprehensive treatment plan. The therapy may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Professional advice
  • Family therapy
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (a type of therapy designed to treat bipolar disorder)

Electroconvulsive therapy

When medications fail, electroconvulsive therapy may be effective. It can be used to treat mania and depression.

How to Prevent Bipolar Disorder

There are no general guidelines for preventing bipolar disorder. Taking medications daily and following the treatment plan can help prevent future changes in mood.

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