What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder, previously called manic-depressive disorder, is a mood disorder that involves episodes of depression (feeling low, flat, tired, sad, empty, etc.) as well as mania. Some examples of mania are not always euphoria, and can include:
-Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity;
– Decreased need to sleep;
– Being more talkative;
-Flight of ideas or racing thoughts;
-Increased goal directed behaviour (e.g. starting new projects at work or at home);
-Agitation and fidgeting or unable to keep still;
-Increased involvement in pleasurable but risky things that have a high potential for painful consequences (e.g. promiscuity or increased sex drive without consideration of the risks, spending sprees, or reckless investments or business ventures).
There are two types of bipolar disorder (bipolar type I and bipolar type II). These ‘types’ essentially vary in the degree of mania experienced by the person and are best diagnosed by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.
Unfortunately, insight is often impaired during both mania or depression, however particularly during mania. This can make it especially difficult for someone suffering from bipolar disorder to recognise that they have changed or that their behaviour is dangerous or risky. Furthermore, when people present with bipolar disorder, they often present with predominant depression and can therefore be misdiagnosed which has signifiant implications for effective treatment, particularly if antidepressant monotherapy is used.
What are the risk factors?
-Family history of a mood disorder (such as depression);
– Clear bipolar in one parent (5x the risk);
– Bipolar in a grandparent, aunt or uncle (2.5x the risk);
– ‘Fuzzy’ bipolar or clear mood history in parents (up to 2x the risk);
– Early onset depression before the age of 20yrs;
– Depression with biological features;
– Medication coincident mania;
– History of trauma.
What can I do if I have bipolar disorder?
Seeking the right help is important, and usually involves medical attention from a qualified General Practitioner (GP) or treating psychiatrist. Seeing a clinical psychologist is especially important to prevent a relapse of symptoms, and to identify what some of the warning signs are for a manic or depressive episode; as well as address some of the underlying causes. Oftentimes, bipolar disorder is related to traumatic experiences, particularly in early life, however this is not always the case.
If you suspect that you have bipolar disorder, or have been previously diagnosed, it may be beneficial to make an appointment with a clinical psychologist. We will work closely with your treating doctor(s) to ensure you have the best level of care.
For more information, get in touch with us today