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Bipolar disorder is one of the most serious and yet the most misunderstood mental health conditions out there. The majority of people think it is simply an issue of unpredictable ‘mood swings.’ However, it is way more than that.
It is normal to face ups and downs in your life. You might be feeling extremely happy one moment and start feeling upset the next. But, this doesn’t mean that you are bipolar. Bipolar is an illness which is characterised by extreme feelings of sadness and happiness.
The high moods are referred to as manic episodes and the low moods are known as depressive episodes. Hence, it is often called manic-depressive illness or manic depression. To understand this condition better, we contacted Kamna Chibber, a clinical psychologist and head of the Department of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences at the Fortis Memorial Research Institute.
“The symptoms can vary from person to person but most common is the extreme changes in mood. They go through cycles of depression,” she says.
According to Chibber, these are some of the important things about bipolar disorder you must know:
1. It is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood and behaviour
Bipolar disorder is marked by extreme changes in mood also called the mood episodes. These mood episodes are of two types. The manic episodes, where you might feel overly excited and have unusually high energy, is the first type. The second type is the depressive episodes where you feel extreme sadness, hopelessness and fatigue.
2. It impairs your ability to make decisions
During the manic episode, one tends to feel overconfident. This will lead to them taking on too many things that can’t be handled, all at once. It can further add to a feeling of invincibility while the reality is that the decisions made are reckless and bear financial as well as personal consequences.
3. It can make it difficult for you to understand what you’re going through
A person battling bipolar disorder might go through mixed episodes. This involves feeling high energy levels of mania and the despair of depression at the same time. Often, it gets difficult for you and others to identify the phases.
4. You might face troubles sleeping
People with bipolar disorder lack sleep and can become agitated. Poor sleep can cause many other health issues which can further deteriorate the condition. Seeking therapy can improve sleep disruptions.
5. At first, it can get difficult to recognize bipolar disorder
Recognizing bipolar disorder at the initial stage can be hard. A person experiencing the extremely high energy level during the manic phase is fun to be around but when they’re going through the depressive phase, it may seem like they’re just dealing with a tough life situation. Hence, it is difficult to recognize bipolar disorder.
6. Bipolar disorder can be managed
With proper treatment, it can be managed in a way that it doesn’t affect all spheres of life. Medication combined with therapy can help you achieve stability and happiness.
“Seek timely medical intervention and do not ever hesitate to go to a therapist,” says Chibber. “Be open to family members. Having good family support is critical and valuable.”
Due to the stigma that surrounds mental illness, it becomes tough to not fall prey to the misconceptions regarding bipolar disorder. We hope these few things will be kept in mind by you when you think of it.