The term bi-polar describes two-divisive poles, or two polarised and extreme moods. These are depression (feeling very low and lethargic), and mania (feeling energised, high, and excited). Bipolar is not a simple issue of mood swings, each episode can last for weeks, months, and in some cases, even years, with each mood having a separate set of symptoms.
Because each state can last a while, some people might be diagnosed with clinical depression rather than bipolar because they have not yet experienced a manic episode. It can be challenging for those who experience bipolar to maintain relationships or employment and the risk of suicide is increased.
Today, there are thought to be 4 types of bipolar:
Bipolar I: When individuals have one or more manic episodes that last at least a week. They may or may not experience a depressive episode.
Bipolar II: When individuals experience depressive episodes which oscillate with mania but they do not experience full manic episodes.
Cyclothymic disorder: This is a mild form of bipolar in which depressive and manic states last at least 2 years at a time, with individuals alternating between them, and with periods of normal mood that last no more than 8 weeks.
Unspecified bipolar disorder: When individuals experience significant mood elevation but do not ‘fit’ any of the other types of bipolar.
This mood can last for weeks or months (and possibly years) and can include:
This mood can last for weeks or months (and possibly years) and is characterised by:
There is no known cause for bipolar, however there are certain factors that might make someone more susceptible to developing it, especially when individuals experience multiple risk factors, which include:
A chemical imbalance in the brain: Our brains produce neurotransmitters (some of which also act as hormones) that are responsible for regulating mood, these include noradrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. The research suggests that an imbalance in one or more of these ‘feel good hormones’ is linked to bipolar disorder.
Genetic inheritance: Although no single gene is responsible for bipolar, it tends to run in families, indicating a genetic component which may be increased when environmental factors are also at work.
Environmental factors: These include stressful life events such as any kind of abuse, the breakdown of a relationship, suffering a bereavement, a physical illness, or sleep problems. Day to day difficulties that become overwhelmingly stressful can also act as a trigger, for example, financial, work, or relationship issues.
Normally an individual with bipolar will need to see a GP and be referred to a psychiatrist for a diagnosis, or to rule it out. The psychiatrist may prescribe mood stabilisers, antidepressants, and/or antipsychotic medication. They may also recommend psychotherapy, all with the aim of reducing the frequency and severity of depressive and manic episodes, and to promote the ability to live as normally as possible.
At Phinity we will conduct our own thorough psychological assessment to see how we might best support you to live well. This might include helping you to recognise and understand the signs and triggers of a depressive or manic episode.
In addition, based on your assessment with us, and the goals established, we can offer guidance about how you might experience a more optimised lifestyle, such that you experience enjoyment, feel accomplished, and do the kinds of activities that offer opportunities to boost production of ‘feel good hormones‘, and therefore overall wellbeing.
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