Bipolar disorder is so common that 1 person among 100 is likely to be diagnosed with a severe form of it.
This disorder is the sixth leading cause of disability globally. According to data, it has a lifetime prevalence of about 3% in general population. Although late adolescence and early adulthood are peak years, 10% diagnoses are of patients who had 50 or more years of age.
All the above stats are just to give you a clue of how common and life-threatening this disorder is. Therefore, no matter how old you are or how different your lifestyles, which ever part of the world you are from, you must be aware of its diagnosis, types and treatments.
Previously, it was hard to differentiate bipolar disorder from other types of disorders. These mood disorders included unipolar depression, schizophrenia. However, today, because of medical advancements, we can distinguish and diagnose it more efficiently.
MRI, brain scan, and many other lab tests are helpful, yet not entirely successful.
More or rather, the most helpful is an open and free talk between the patient and doctor.
A talk about mood swings, environment, past time, family history of bipolar and other factors can help in detection. Further, not only the patient but also his/her relatives, co-workers and other social relations are key sources of information which are useful in diagnosis.
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is made on the basis of symptoms, the course of illness and, family history. However, the most common criteria for diagnosing this disorder is:
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) from the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA).
- International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Edition (ICD-10) from the World Health Organization’s (WHO).
Additionally, there are two main phases (manic and depression phase) in bipolar and each should show symptoms for at least one week with additional 4-5 symptoms.
The causes of the disorder vary among individuals. These include factors like genetics, structure or function of certain brain circuits, environment among others. Although we do not know the exact cause of it yet. However, studies till now associate it with some disturbances in the way brain maps and transmits a signal to do a task. Further, some generalized causes are:
-Genetics: Studies suggest that chromosome anomalies are related to this disorder. Apparently, the twin study is the most convincing. This suggests that if one of the twins is bipolar, the other twin has a greater chance of developing the disorder. However, other siblings in the family are also likely to develop bipolar disorder.
–Physiological: The reason of it being a mental disorder, is abnormalities in the structure and functioning of certain brain circuits which sums up as a big cause of the disorder. For example, increase in the rates of deep white matter hyperintensities.
–Neurochemical: Most of our activities, especially emotions, depend on neurotransmitters (chemical messenger). Therefore, any dispute in neurotransmitters raise chances of Bipolarity. To support this, the dopamine hypothesis states rise in the level of dopamine ( a neurotransmitter) during the manic period.
–Environmental factor: Early life events which are traumatic, can develop bipolar disorder in an individual. These life events can be of any type such as terrible phase in a relationship or any other which is capable enough of holding a person’s mind for a long time and causing trouble.
Apart from the above-mentioned causes, many other factors can also be responsible for bipolar disorder. This includes brain injury, HIV infection etc.
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder:
Unlike diseases, mental disorders need more self-help than medical help. This is especially because Bipolar Disorder is a chronic, lifelong disorder. Although, a large number of pharmacological and psychotherapeutic techniques are available to cure this disorder, but a balanced combination of medicine, therapy and self care is the effective means of dealing with it.
Learning to deal with a disorder like bipolarity, takes time, lots of care, and obviously, patience. Moreover, slight changes in lifestyle can be successful tools.
Edited by Preetika Dubey