Bipolar disorder seems to come up frequently in conversation and while I knew it is a sensitive topic, and one that requires respect, I didn’t know very much about it. Let’s learn about it today.

What does it mean to be Bipolar?
– brain disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks to approximately 1% of the global population
– moods can change from extremely energized/”up” (manic) to very sad/down (depressive), or hopelessness

Symptoms of a Manic episode:
– have lots of energy
– feel ‘jumpy’ or ‘wired’
– have trouble sleeping
– increased speed of speech
– be agitated, irritable, or ‘touchy’
– do risky things, like spend a lot of money or have reckless sex

Symptoms of a Depressive episode:
– have very little energy
– feel like they can’t enjoy anything
– have trouble concentrating
– think about death or suicide

– sometimes a mood episode include symptoms of both manic and depressive symptoms
– these symptoms are similar to other illnesses (e.g. anxiety disorder, substance abuse, schizophrenia) which makes it hard for doctors to make an accurate diagnosis
– a person with severe episodes of mania/depression may exhibit psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations or delusions

Diagnosis via speaking with a doctor or licensed mental health professional:
– physical exam
– mental health evaluation
– diagnosis from a psychiatrist

Causes of bipolar disorder:
no single cause, but likely many factors contributing to the illness or increase risk
– some studies show how the brain structure of healthy people differ from those that suffer from bipolar disorder
– some studies suggest certain genes causes it, but it has been shown that identical twins (the same genes) won’t
both necessary develop bipolar disorder if one develops it
environmental factors including childhood abuse, or long-term stress
– it may occur from neurological conditions/injuries (stroke, traumatic brain injury, HIV infection)

Types of treatments and therapies
– medication (mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, sleep medication)
– psychotherapy and counselling
– bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness where treatment decreases the triggering of elevated episodes

For more information:
Canadian Mental Health Association
Mayo Clinic