Symptoms & Causes of Bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, mental illness characterised by extreme mood fluctuations include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) & lows (depression). People who don’t have bipolar disorder will also have mood swings as well, but they generally last for only hours rather than days. Furthermore, these fluctuations are not typically accompanied by the high degree of behavioral changes that will disturb their daily activities and social relationships like what people with bipolar disorder display during mood episodes. Bipolar disorder can impair relationships with friends and family as well as making it difficult to work or go to school.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder:

Emotional highs

Mania and hypomania are 2 different types of episodes with similar characteristics. Mania is much more intense than hypomania and it can cause worse challenges for these patients at their job, school, social events as well as relationship issues. Mania can sometimes cause a separation from reality (psychosis) and need hospitalisation.

A manic or hypomanic episode both feature three or more of the following symptoms:

  • Abnormally ecstatic, anxious, or wired
  • Excessive physical movement, energy, or excitement
  • Exaggerated emotions
  • Talkative
  • Insomnia
  • Indefinite thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Bad decisions making, such as going on shopping sprees, taking physical risks, or making rash investments

Emotional lows

A major depressive episode is defined by symptoms that significantly reduce the quality and impaired daily routines such as job, school, socialising, or relationships. An episode comprised of five or more of the following symptoms:

  • Depressed mood, such as sadness, desolation, despair, or crying (in children and teens, depressed mood can appear as irritability)
  • Sudden loss of interest or excitement in all activities
  • Insomnia or over sleeping
  • Either being anxious or slow reaction behaviour
  • Fatigue or energy insufficiency
  • Feelings of inadequacy, excessive or inappropriate guilt
  • Hesitation or unable to focus
  • Suicidal thoughts

Causes of bipolar disorder:

Nobody knows how bipolar disorder occurs. According to current research, there seem to be a number of biological and life experience elements that increase a child’s probability of having the disease.

Genetic influences

Bipolar disorder is believed to be inherited, as it appears to run in families. Family members of those who have a history of bipolar disorder are at a greater risk of having this mental illness. However, bipolar disorder is not caused by one particular gene in our DNA. Instead, it is suggested to have a combination of genetic and environmental conditions that act as triggers.

Environmental and psychological factors

Environmental and psychological factors are also thought to have a role in the onset of bipolar disorder. Triggers can cause new symptoms of mania or depression or intensify existing symptoms. The examples of triggers include:

  • The end of a relationship
  • Abuse, either physically, sexually, or emotionally
  • The news of people around them passed away
  • Medical conditions
  • Insomnia
  • Serious problems in everyday life, such as financial issues, workload or social relationships

Brain chemical imbalances

Bipolar disorder is commonly believed due to chemical imbalances in the brain. Neurotransmitters are substances that regulate the activity of the brain which include noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine. There are some studies that suggest when the levels of certain neurotransmitters are out of their normal value, they can develop symptoms of bipolar disorder.

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