Bipolar disorder, which is characterized by mood swings in particular, can be disabling.
How can one tell if they have bipolar disorder? and what therapies and treatments options are available today?
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is characterized by a persistent mood illness with alternating euphoric, occasionally delusory, and depressive periods.
However, according to psychologist Marine Bienaimé, “these abnormal episodes are alternated with intervals when the mood is normal.”
As a result, it is a psychiatric illness characterized by significant mood fluctuations.
These states, pushed to the extreme, can produce delusions and hallucinations or even dangerous behavior that can sometimes lead to compulsory hospitalization.
Bipolar Disorder and Cyclothymia
Cyclothymia is a true disorder that belongs to the so-called manic-depressive illness family.
Bipolar disorder is a severe mood condition, while cyclothymia is merely a minor variant of it.
Cyclothymia is distinguished by the alternating of hypomanic euphoric (high phase, manic symptoms: cheerfulness, strong enthusiasm) and sub-depressive mental states (low periods, depressive symptoms: anxiety, sadness).
What exactly is bipolar depression?
Mood disorders are typically characterized by two separate poles: mania or hypomania with mental and physical overactivity on the one hand, and sadness, of which melancholy is the extreme form, on the other.
The name bipolarity is derived from these two qualities.
Understanding The Statistics
Bipolar disease affects both men and women, regardless of socioeconomic status or location. According to the High Authority for Health (HAS), its frequency in the general population in France is estimated to be between 1% and 2.5%. According to the WHO, bipolar disorders are among the most incapacitating diseases.
What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder symptoms include depression and manic episodes that occur intermittently.
The symptoms of the depressive phase include deep sadness, despair, and a lack of desire, as well as a loss of vital momentum and a mental and motor slowdown.
We see in the patient a loss of interest and motivation, pessimism, guilt or depreciation, and a withdrawal into oneself that can lead to suicidal thoughts.
Euphoria, elevation of mood, psychomotor excitement (many projects, disinhibition, lavish presentation, flow of words (logorrhea), flight of ideas, sleeplessness without feeling exhausted, etc.) are characteristics of a manic phase.
The lunatic never stops. He exudes overwhelming optimism, omnipotence, and disinhibition.
As a result, we are observing an increase in psychological functioning, which is occasionally accompanied with delirium and a risk of endangerment.
The subject is in denial of his disorders during the manic phase, and after a manic episode, he may even feel nostalgic for a time when everything seemed possible.
It is common for a depressive phase to follow a manic episode.
It would take approximately ten years from the onset of symptoms to the initiation of appropriate treatment.
Who are at Risk of Bipolar Disorder?
On this question, Marine Bienaimé specifies that “genetic factors are sometimes mentioned, at least in certain cases where several members of the same family are affected.
But no genetic research has to far demonstrated a clear correlation and the psychological weight transgenerational is a component that should not be neglected”.
Diagnosis of bipolarity
Bipolar disorder is diagnosed through a survey in which the psychiatrist measures the duration of the exaltation and depression phases. It will also be an issue of taking into consideration the family history and the environment in which the patient matures.
The questioning of the entourage is extremely enlightening, the afflicted individual being seldom conscious of his problem.
Diagnosis is sometimes difficult and time-consuming, resulting in late treatment for persons suffering from bipolar illness. On average, 10 years pass between the initial symptoms and the prescription of a suitable therapy, a condition that raises the risk of problems.
When to think about bipolar disorder?
It is necessary to make the difference between bipolar disorders and a depressive episode, whether isolated or recurrent because the management is different.
There is a break with previous psychic functioning during bipolar disorder, with manifestations being episodic. It is also essential to assess the risk of suicide.
Adolescents experiencing a depressive episode and having a family history of bipolar disorder should be closely monitored.
Treatment: what to do in case of bipolarity?
According to Marine Bienaimé, “Drugs and psychotherapy work in tandem.
Because of the disease’s impact on those around you, it can be behavioral or cognitive therapy, psychotherapy, but also family or marital therapy “.
The psychologist emphasizes “the significance of a good therapeutic alliance, long-term treatment compliance, and a healthy lifestyle.”
The effectiveness of the treatment also relies on therapeutic education so that the individual identifies the warning flags. In terms of medication, once the diagnosis has been made, treatment is often prescribed over very long periods of time.
The most commonly used molecules are lithium salts, neuroleptics and antiepileptic drugs.
The opinion of a psychiatrist is essential when the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is considered in order to confirm it and to set up the most appropriate care.
When a manic or mixed episode presents severity criteria or a danger of suicide, hospitalization is often considered before referral to a psychiatrist.