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Key Information about Bipolar Disorder


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What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that involves rapid mood swings between periods of good moods and those of irritability and depression.

It is the recurrent, and sometimes severe, disruption of normal moods that undermines a person’s ability to function, maintain relationships, work, and make sound judgments.


Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are several types of bipolar disorder, each of which is defined by the length, frequency and pattern of episodes of mania and depression.

Here are the five main types of this mental illness:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder
  2. Bipolar II Disorder
  3. Not Otherwise Specified (NOS)
  4. Cyclothymia
  5. Rapid Cycling

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder


  • Excitement
  • Sudden changes from being very happy to being irritable and hostile
  • Rapid speech
  • Enhanced energy
  • High sex drive
  • Impulsive behavior


  • Despondency
  • Hopelessness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Inability to take correct decisions
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite changes
  • Thoughts of suicide

"For many patients, the most painful part of bipolar disorder is the loss of control over their own mind," says Chris Aiken, MD.

"People with bipolar disorder are especially sensitive to the disruption of routines, and we don’t know exactly why that is," says Timothy Sullivan, M.D., chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.

Bipolar Disorder Causes

Researchers are yet to obtain complete understanding of the exact cause of bipolar disorder; however, the following factors enhance the risk of developing this mental illness:

  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Brain damage
  • Genetics
  • Trauma due to loss of a loved one
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Drug abuse

“Research has shown that women suffering from this condition [PCOS] are also more likely to suffer from mental health problems like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder,” said Dr Alka Kriplani from Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, India.

How to Diagnose Bipolar Disorder?

To determine if you have bipolar disorder, your evaluation may include:

  • Physical exam
  • Psychiatric assessment
  • Mood charting
  • Criteria for bipolar disorder

Complications of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can cause complications like substance abuse, legal issues, isolation, suicide attempts, missed school, financial problems, relationship problems, loneliness, promiscuous behavior, poor performance, missed work and suicidal thoughts.

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Treatment for this mental health disorder usually involves a combination of medicines and psychotherapy.

Support group, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation and family therapy are some therapies used to treat bipolar disorder.

Mood stabilizers, antidepressants and antipsychotics are found to be effective against symptoms of this mental illness.

Some doctors use Zoloft to treat certain types of bipolar disorder. Zoloft is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI.

"Medications with reasonable evidence of modest efficacy for pain that do not exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder include acetaminophen; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents (stronger than acetaminophen—but be careful about the interaction with lithium to raise lithium levels); gabapentin (no efficacy for mood swings, though); pregabalin (may work when gabapentin fails, possibly because of genetically based transporter-related interactions); and carbamazepine (for trigeminal neuralgia and possibly other kinds of pain)," said Dr Osser, associate professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Image is for representation purpose only.

Image is for representation purpose only.

I think what's helpful is to maximize mood stabilizers first. From a number of controlled clinical trials, we know that higher doses of lithium, divalproex, and lamotrigine, which we identify as mood stabilizers, are helpful in the depressive phase of illness. I would also give all sedating medicines at bedtime and any nonsedating medicines during the day. If those interventions prove unsuccessful, then I would work with adjunctive antidepressants to treat subsyndromal symptoms.

— Mark A. Frye, MD

How to Prevent Bipolar Disorder?

Since the exact cause of bipolar disorder has not yet been determined, there are no known methods to prevent it. However, learning the warning signs of a manic episode and get early treatment prevents disruption in your life.

The same is true for depressive symptoms — the sooner they are identified, the sooner they can be treated.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R


Srikanth R (author) on September 06, 2019:

Thank you.

Sheila A Myers from Elmira on September 06, 2019:

Im bipolar 1, so I appreciate you sharing this information. People need to be informed about it. Great job!

Srikanth R (author) on February 28, 2019:

It is a concern worldwide.

Liz Westwood from UK on February 28, 2019:

Mental health issues are talked about much more now in the UK than they were years ago. I remember a TV series in which celebrities talked about either their own or their relatives' bipolar disorders. It was very informative and interesting.