Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder In Women

2013 Bipolar Update

Symptoms Of Bipolar Disorder In Women

In the past bipolar disorder was called manic depression. However, irrespective of the name you choose to call this mental illness, it is still characterized by episodes of mania and depression. Mood swings are quite commonly experienced by people at different points in their lives but the kind experienced in bipolar disorder are severe enough to cause disruptions in daily life.

One of the common myths about this illness is that it occurs more commonly in women than in men, perhaps due to the differences between the symptoms of bipolar disorder in women and men. The truth of the matter is that this disorder is diagnosed about equally in men and women. However, there are certain types of the disorder that are seen more commonly in women than in men and this is thought to be caused by hormonal fluctuations, thyroid issues and other types of triggers. The symptoms of bipolar disorder in women may also be affected by these same triggers.

Bipolar I, which is the most severe form of the disorder and is characterized by major depressive and mania episodes, has been found to occur equally in men and women. Bipolar II, which is characterized by one major depressive episode and one hypomanic episode, is said to occur more commonly in women. Rapid cycling, which is when a person reports more than 4 episodes of depression, mania, hypomania and mixed episodes within a year, is more common in women.

The rapid cycling symptoms of bipolar disorder in women is thought to be caused in part by fluctuations in the female hormones, progesterone and estrogen, during the menstrual cycle which predispose a woman to more frequent mood changes. Estrogen has also been known to increase levels of cortisol which is linked with increased stress levels and therefore may increase the chances of depression in women.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder in women are quite often mistaken to be the symptoms of other mood disorders or depression. This results to the disorder being misdiagnosed and the patient not getting the right treatment. Wrong treatment may lead to even more problems. For instance, if a woman is diagnosed as suffering from depression, they may be put on anti-depressants. Studies have shown that anti-depressants sometimes cause manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder.

It is also very important to correctly recognize symptoms of bipolar disorder in women due to the possible effects of the drugs on women of child bearing age. More so, some studies have shown that the symptoms of bipolar disorder in women may be made worse by pregnancy. It has also been reported that the risks of psychotic episodes significantly increase post-partum (within the first few months of giving birth). This may account for the misconception that bipolar disorder signs occur more in women.