What is a Bipolar Disorder? How Common Are Bipolar Disorders? How does a bipolar disorder develop? How to find out if you have a bipolar disorder? How is a bipolar disorder treated? What can friends and family do?
Bipolar disorders or manic-depressive disorders are characterized by pronounced fluctuations in the drive, in the thinking and in the mood of a person. Thus, people with bipolar disorders go through depressive phases and phases of euphoric or unusually irritable mood. The latter are associated with a significantly increased drive. If these phases are weak, one speaks of hypomanic, in full expression of manic episodes. In severe mania symptoms (symptoms) of psychosis are added, for example, megalomania or paranoia.
In a hypomanic episode, an unusually high or irritable mood occurs over four consecutive days.
In addition, at least three of the following features are present: increased activity, restlessness, communicativeness, difficulty concentrating, reduced need for sleep, increase in libido (lust for love), reckless behavior, increased sociability.
At times, creativity and performance may well be above the normal level. The symptoms are not so pronounced that there are social consequences such as job loss or exclusion.
In a manic episode, the mood is abnormally high or irritated for at least a week, and the symptoms are severely detrimental to life. At first, a manic phase can also increase performance.
There must be at least three of the following: increased activity, restlessness, rhetoric, flight of ideas (constant fast talking with abrupt jumps from topic to topic), the feeling that thoughts are racing, loss of social inhibitions, reduced need for sleep, excessive self-esteem, distractibility, constant change of activities, foolhardy or reckless behavior, increased libido.
How Common Are Bipolar Disorders?
1 to 3 out of every 100 people get Bipolar Disorder during their lifetime. In contrast to the purely depressive illnesses women and men are equally affected. Often there are other mental illnesses in people with bipolar disorders such. Anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction disorders, personality disorders or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Bipolar disease can affect anyone and begins predominantly in adulthood at the age of 18 years. But even in later life, a life crisis or upheaval can trigger such a mental illness.
How does a bipolar disorder develop?
A clear cause could not yet be determined. Currently one starts from a so-called multifactorial event. This means that several factors in different combinations come into question as a cause. These include biological causes such as changes in genes and in the messenger system of the brain or hormonal changes.
Environmental factors such as ongoing stress, early loss experiences or traumatic experiences such as sexual, emotional or physical abuse may also play a role.
Against the background of such factors, people are differently susceptible to mental illness. Comes z. For example, if you add an onerous life event, this may be the cause of some mental illness such as bipolar disorder in some individuals.
How to find out if you have a bipolar disorder?
In many cases it is the relatives who urge that the “extreme” mood swings be investigated. The diagnosis of a bipolar disorder is a “clinical diagnosis”, that is, there is no laboratory value that could provide information about the presence of the disease.
In order to determine whether there really is a Bipolar Disorder, a detailed discussion with a psychotherapist is necessary. Here it is helpful – if the patient agrees – to include relatives or friends in the diagnosis. The therapist receives so important additional information, through which he can better estimate the previous course of the disease. Because often the experience of the person affected is very different from what his immediate environment has perceived.
In addition, examination (eg, blood analysis, magnetic resonance imaging) precludes any physical cause, such as thyroid dysfunction, from affecting the changes.
In bipolar I disorder, more than 90 out of 100 suffer from multiple episodes. Manic episodes are much less common in most sufferers than depressive episodes. Therefore, depression often determines the course of the disease. A person suffering from Bipolar I Disorder experiences about eight disease phases on average. The course varies greatly from person to person and depends on various factors – i.a. from the age when the disease started, from sex, or from other mental illnesses.
The suicide risk is 20 to 30 times higher than in healthy people. About 25 to 50 out of 100 people commit suicide attempts in life, about 5 to 15 out of 100 die from it.
Suicidal thoughts or announcements of suicide (suicide) should always be taken seriously, 8 to 9 out of 10 suicides are announced beforehand. In case of acute suicidal thoughts urgent need for therapeutic help. “Acute” means when someone specifically plans to take his own life and plans how he wants to do it. However, getting this help is often very difficult for the patient.
How is a bipolar disorder treated?
Self-control and self-responsibility by the patient can do more than one long assumed. For this, people with bipolar disorders usually start psychotherapy – often with accompanying medical support. The aim is to alleviate the current symptoms of a bipolar illness phase and prevent future ones. While medications can not completely prevent recurrent bipolar episodes, they can help alleviate or prolong the time to the next episode.
Psychotherapeutic procedures are considered very effective. This is especially true if they respect the personal issues and strengths of the person concerned and involve their relatives. If possible, this should be done at the start of the therapy – provided that the patient agrees. Often, a combination of drug and psychotherapeutic treatment is necessary and useful to begin appropriate therapy
What can friends and family do?
The different episodes of Bipolar Disorder are very stressful for relatives and close friends. Being well informed about the condition, preferably together with the affected partner or family member, makes it easier to deal with the often contradictory utterances and behaviors as well as the strongly fluctuating moods.
In order to master the mental crises during a disease phase, relatives need serenity and attention at the same time, have to balance between affection and delimitation, compassion for the person concerned and feedback on what this triggers for them.
Keeping that balance is a lengthy learning process that requires a lot of patience. Support groups for relatives provide support and impulses to deal with the challenges of the disease.