Facts About Bipolar Disorder

2013 Bipolar Update

Don’t Be Fooled: Know the Facts about Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder affects around 1-2% of the population, excluding the undiagnosed ones. People affected with bipolar disorder can have a sudden change of mood with a snap of a finger, from being excessively energetic and gleeful into being gravely melancholic and depressed. Bipolar disorder is a psychiatric condition that can render a person injured regarding his or her personal and social well-being, understanding this disorder can help so much in managing it.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

There have been so many notions about what bipolar disorder is. Some say it is a type of depressive disorder, other say that it pertains to the person’s mood. In one way or another, these descriptions are somehow correct, but not entirely so. That is why, facts about Bipolar Disorder are important to be known by individuals, and not only those in the medical profession. In a brief and concise sense, bipolar disorder, or formerly known as manic-depressive disorder is a type of mental illness that is characterized by the patient as having shifting moods from being “manic” to being “depressed,” or vice versa. Being in a manic state, a bipolar patient may talk excessively, get the attention of everyone, and disturb other people. The risks involved are that of exhaustion and physical harm to self and others. On the other hand, being in a depressive state, the bipolar patient may isolate his or herself, refuse to eat and drink, and may even have suicidal ideations. This poses greater medical risks such as malnutrition and most dangerously – suicide.


There are many explanations as to how this mental disorder occurs, such as genetics and traumatic life events, but the most common one is the biologic reason which states that the sudden mood shifts are due to the fluctuating levels of brain neurotransmitters, specifically serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These three neurotransmitters are highly associated with mood control. If the person’s neurotransmitter levels are high, it makes him or her easily excitable, as if in a state of frenzy. On the other hand, if the person’s neurotransmitter levels are low, it changes his or her mood into a depressive state. Between the two moods, being depressed is much more dangerous.

On the side of genetics, several studies have brought the conclusion that indeed; bipolar disorder can run in the family. In one study at Stanford University, it stated that children of parents (either one of them) with bipolar disorders have 51% chance of inheriting a mental illness, either bipolar, depression, or ADHD.

Furthermore, another possible culprit in the occurrence of bipolar disorders is the presence of a stressful life event. Experts believe that a person can develop manic-depressive disorders when the body’s system is challenged or faced with a difficulty such as the death of a loved one, a traumatic incident, or other crises in life. These things seem to serve as triggering factors for the mental illness to develop.

The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Facts about Bipolar Disorder reveal that it is characterized by two major moods – the manic and the depressive moods. However, not all bipolar disorders exhibit the same mood symptom, which is why it is classified into different classes, depending on the occurrence of these two major moods. These classifications are as follows:

Bipolar I - is characterized by symptoms of manic state that can last at least seven days and a depressive state that may last for two weeks or more. Sometimes though, the depressive mood may not necessarily be demonstrated.

Bipolar II, the person exhibits a depressive mood, but its manic state many not be as severe as in Bipolar I, sometimes it may even appear too inadequate to be said as mania. Thus, in Bipolar II, the manic state is called as hypomania.

Mixed – this bipolar type can also be called as the uncategorized one. The patient’s signs and symptoms are too vague for it to be placed as either Bipolar I or Bipolar II, but these signs and symptoms are positively out of the normal.

Cyclothymic –patients that have a rather mild form of bipolar disorder that has occurred for a period of at least two years. The symptoms involve episodes of hypomania and mild depression.

Another additional type is the rapid-cycling bipolar disorder – this is characterized by four or more episodes of the above signs and symptoms in a given year.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar can affect persons in the age bracket of late teens to young adults. However, it can also come too early, as early as the age of 6. Plus, women are generally more susceptible to having longer depressive states than men. With these given facts about Bipolar Disorder, it is quite a challenge for all to know how it is diagnosed.

After the first evident signs and symptoms, bipolar disorder can be diagnosed through visiting a doctor. Usually, the doctor would first run some blood and brain tests as well as a mental status examination to rule out other possible mental disease processes. If the doctor suspects that the patient has this type of mental illness, then the doctor should refer the patient to a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are way more experienced and knowledgeable in diagnosing bipolar disorder, especially when it comes to its sub-types.

Bipolar Disorder Management

Management for bipolar disorder would involve the use of therapies and medications. Pharmacologic treatment for this disorder is through the use of mood stabilizers, with Lithium as the first line drug. Atypical Antipsychotics and Antidepressants are also used.

Aside from medications, psychotherapy is also used for the management of bipolar disorders. Psychotherapies include CBT or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Family-focused therapy, Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and psychoeducation. These therapies are given by trained professionals that are equipped with the right skills to help bipolar patients. On the other hand, family members and friends can also do their share by giving moral or financial support.

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that can greatly create an impact to one’s life. It can break relationships, and lower a person’s self esteem. It can lead to serious life problems and even death or suicide for those who are in their depressive states. The understanding and support of the patient’s family members can go a long way in the course of the treatment. Most importantly, the public should never misjudge these persons as ill and possessed, but instead these victims should be treated with respect as any human being deserves. So how can one deeply show respect to a bipolar victim? Knowing the facts about Bipolar Disorder is a start.