Bipolar Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and More

Bipolar Disorder: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and More | Dr. Sanjeet Diwan


In this article, we will analyze the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options and much more about bipolar disorder.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is characterized by severe mood swings. The mood for several months, weeks, or (less often) for several hours "goes to extremes" - it becomes too cheerful and too bad.

This disease significantly disrupts the social and professional functioning of a person. This is a serious mood disorder that requires immediate professional attention for diagnosis and treatment.

It is also known as manic depression because of this cycling between mania—a euphoric, exhilarated state with lots of energy—and depression, which is characterized by fatigue, sadness, apathy, and despair.

What Are The Causes Of Bipolar Disorder?

The causes of bipolar disorder have yet to be fully understood. However, there are some factors that have been suggested to be related to the development of this disease. They include:

  • Presence in the immediate family of a person with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
  • Use of drugs and alcohol by the mother during her pregnancy.
  • Injuries suffered by the child before birth, which sometimes result from use of alcohol or drugs by the mother.
  • The lack of oxygen during birth.
  • Severe psychological stress during childhood or adolescence, which can be caused by physical abuse, sexual abuse, loss of a parent, death of a brother or sister, divorce of parents.
  • There is not enough vitamin D in the blood because it does not receive sunlight during the fall and winter months.
  • Medicines (including some drugs for colds and flu, antibiotics, antidepressants, sedatives) can cause bipolar disorder to develop.
  • Deficiency of B12 and other vitamins.

What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

People with bipolar disorder may feel extremely sad or hopeless, or irritable and agitated. They may feel very energetic, overactive, and may have trouble sleeping. Moods can change quickly from sadness to extreme happiness ("mania").

Bipolar disorder is typically diagnosed in the teens or early adulthood. It affects about 1 percent of adults in the United States. Someone with bipolar disorder typically has periods of depression and periods of mania.

Mania is a period in which intense feelings of happiness, high self-esteem and increased activity are experienced. During this 'manic' episode the person may feel that they can conquer anything or that nothing bad will happen to them. They do not need much sleep, but often feel very restless and agitated.

Sometimes these periods of mania can involve hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that are not there) and delusions, for example believing that they have special powers or abilities.

Other symptoms that may occur during a manic episode include being easily distracted, overly impulsive, unable to concentrate on anything other than what they are thinking about at the time, having racing thoughts, being very talkative and reckless.

How is Bipolar Disorder Diagnosed?

Doctors use several tests to diagnose bipolar disorder. Because the symptoms are constantly changing, it may be difficult to diagnose without using these tests.

The first step is for a doctor or therapist to ask the patient about their thoughts, feelings and behavior patterns during different stages in life.

If they suspect that someone may have bipolar disorder they will most likely recommend a psychiatric examination.

This usually involves spending an hour or so with the psychiatrist, answering questions about how they are feeling and what difficulties they have been having in their lives.

How Bipolar Disorder Can Affect Your Life?

If bipolar disorder is left untreated, episodes can significantly impact work and personal life. A person with bipolar disorder may be unable to concentrate at work, which can affect their job performance.

They will often have trouble controlling impulses, managing money or even recognizing what is a dangerous situation. Relationships and family life often suffer as well from the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

What is Treatment Options Available?

Bipolar Disorder has no cure but can be treated very successfully with medication and psychotherapy, often called 'talk therapy'.

Treatment usually involves a combination of medications, psychotherapy and educational programs. There are some tools that can help someone cope during an episode including taking walks or baths to relieve stress.

The good news is that you can manage bipolar disorder by becoming educated about it and by following your treatment plan.

If you have bipolar disorder, it's important to discuss all treatment options with your doctor and caregivers to create a healthcare team that will work together to help you manage the condition.

Many people do well for years with their treatment plan, but may require adjustments from time to time as they change over the course of their life.

Final Thoughts:

This article has outlined the basics of bipolar disorder, what you can do to help yourself or someone else who is struggling with this mental illness. If you are concerned about your mood swings and have not yet been diagnosed, speak to a professional today for more information on how they might be able to help. You deserve peace in life; don't give up hope.