Psychiatric diagnoses

Bipolar disorder

Everyone experiences changes in their moods at different times in their lives. But when you have bipolar disorder, your mood alternates between depression and mania or hypomania, with normal periods in between, frequently lasting for several years.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is when you experience periods where you alternate between exhilaration and depression, with normal periods in between. These moods are called hypomania, mania and depression. There are various combinations of moods that are divided into different types of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder may be triggered by external events, stress and general sources of strain. It begins to appear in adolescence. It is a lifelong illness. The risk of developing bipolar disorder is one to two percent, and it is equally common around the world.

What are mania and hypomania?

Mania and hypomania can impair your judgement, which affects relationships, work and your financial situation. For example you may begin multiple projects, experience euphoria and become excessively extroverted and do things with more or less serious consequences. You are often extremely active and need very little sleep. Your self-confidence is considerably greater than usual, and you may become irritated if someone questions your brilliant ideas, romantic infatuations, night life and all of the projects you have started, for example.

During a manic episode you are more intense, it is easy for you to lose touch with reality and you may develop psychoses. During a hypomanic episode, you do not lose touch with reality and you are less intense. You suffer depression after episodes of mania and hypomania. The depression may be so severe that you experience suicidal thoughts and make plans to commit suicide. Sometimes these thoughts are so difficult that you attempt suicide.

What is the cause of bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is genetic, and it affects the way the brain functions. The trait and brain activity are linked with creativity

Different types of bipolar disorder

In general there are several types of bipolar disorder, but it can be generally divided into Types 1 and 2. Type 1 is when you alternate between mania depression, while Type 2 means that you alternate between hypomania and depression.

Where can I seek help?

If you believe you or someone else has bipolar disorder, you should contact a psychiatric clinic. They will perform a preliminary assessment, and then you will have an examination which will establish whether you have bipolar disorder or not.

What type of help is available, and what can I do on my own?

Treatment is necessary, since the disorder may affect your entire life and there is a substantial risk of suicide. You need to take medication if you have bipolar disorder, both to relieve symptoms and prevent the risk of a new episode. Both you and the people around you need to be familiar with the disorder and learn the early signs in order to reduce the risk of relapse. Psychotherapy and a good dialogue with your therapist are important. Another way to prevent new episodes is to have a treatment plan in place if you or people around you notice the early signs. It may also be necessary to take sick leave for a while, and even to stay in the