Bipolar disorder – causes, side effects and treatments at

Friday, January 12, 2018 by

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a recurring condition that is characterized by extreme mood swings in mood, energy and activity levels. It can also affect a person’s ability to accomplish his daily tasks. While the condition can develop at any age, it is commonly diagnosed during the teenage years or in early adulthood.

There are two distinct episodes that are observed in people with bipolar disorder.

The manic episode is a period wherein the person is abnormally elated. People who experience a manic episode are very talkative, distracted, and have an inflated sense of well-being. This can sometimes lead to poor decision-making, as well as problems at work, school, and relationships. In extreme cases, mania triggers a break in reality (psychosis) and may require hospitalization.

Less severe manic episodes are called hypomanic episodes.

The depressive episode is a period wherein the person feels extremely sad or hopeless. This causes difficulty in day-to-day activities since a depressive episode can creep into work, school, and social activities. One major indication of this episode is fatigue and indecisiveness.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) lists four types of bipolar disorder — with each type having pronounced changes in a person’s behavior.

  • Bipolar I Disorder – A person either experiences manic episodes that can last up to a week or have extreme (or even psychotic) manic symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Depressive episodes may linger for at least two weeks, with some episodes having both depression and manic symptoms occur simultaneously.
  • Bipolar II Disorder – A person exhibits a pattern of depressive and hypomanic episodes.
  • Cyclothymic Disorder – A person has bouts of hypomanic symptoms and non-major depressive episodes for at least two years (a year for children and adolescents).
  • Other types – These include bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the categories listed above. Some of the causes under this type include certain drugs, alcohol, or medical conditions like Cushing’s disease, multiple sclerosis, or stroke.

The types of bipolar disorder are not progressions: each type is discrete from the other and has its own diagnosis. Bipolar I disorder have intense manic episodes, but people with bipolar II disorder experience longer periods of depression which may affect their quality of life.

Known symptoms of bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder experience periods of “unusually intense emotions,” which are known as mood episodes. The symptoms for each episode are complete opposites of each other and can affect a person’s sleep pattern, activity levels, and behavior.

When a person is having a manic episode, he may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Inflated sense of well-being.
  • Increased activity and movement.
  • Unusually talkative.
  • Thoughts quickly drift from one point to another.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Easily irritated when others don’t understand him.
  • Drops his guard and indulges, sometimes with no regard for consequence.

In a depressive state, the person usually develops the following symptoms:

  • He experiences “true depression,” a condition where the person has a low mood each day for at least two weeks.
  • He doesn’t feel happy and motivated, even with the activities that he enjoys doing.
  • He feels guilty and useless.
  • He has no motivation, even for simple tasks.
  • He finds it difficult to concentrate.
  • He feels lethargic and sleepy most of the time.
  • His mind is filled with recurrent thoughts of death.

Organs affected by bipolar disorder

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have identified a link between the hippocampus, a region of the brain that is associated with memory processing, and bipolar disorder. In the study, the team noted a reduction in volume in certain areas of the hippocampus in patients who suffer from bipolar I disorder.

Additionally, people with bipolar disorder have a significantly higher risk of committing suicide than those who don’t have the condition. According to studies, between 25 to 50 percent of people who suffer from bipolar disorder have contemplated (or attempted to commit) suicide at least once during their lifetime.

Food items that may prevent bipolar disorder

Diet constitutes a great deal in reducing the likelihood of having a bipolar disorder. Here are some recommended food items that can help.

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids – Eating foods that are rich in omega-3 like wild salmon and halibut can help you manage depression.
  • Magnesium – While doctors use lithium in prescriptions to stabilize your mood, a magnesium-rich diet like soybeans, black beans, and sunflower seeds may help decrease symptoms of mania.
  • Tea – Aside from providing you with antioxidants and nutrients, tea is a better option than coffee, as the latter is known to stimulate manic attacks.

Treatment and management options for bipolar disorder

Treatment for bipolar disorder mainly aims to decrease incidences of mania and depression, so that the patient can have a normal life. Treatment and management options available to the patient include medication (which include mood stabilizers and antipsychotic drugs), talk therapies, and lifestyle changes.

Where to learn more


Bipolar disorder is a recurring condition in the brain that can intensely affect a person’s mood and behavior. Each episode of bipolar disorder can last for several weeks, and some cases may need medical intervention. Still, there are foods that can be consumed to prevent and manage the condition.

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