Between Two Poles

Bipolar Disorder is a Chronic Mental Illness with relapses and recurrences. It was previously referred to as Manic Depressive illness. It is characterized by extreme mood swings, phases of highs  and lows.

As with any other psychiatric illness, it receives least attention in the society. But those with this disease, suffer silently. This desease cannot be neglected because it has a huge impact on a patient’s and caregiver’s lives: adversely affecting health, studies, career and relationships. People with this illness can be dangerous to themselves as they will have suicidal tendencies and others as they may have reckless, aggressive behavior.

It’s that Jimmy Hendrix, Mariah Carey, Winston Churchill, Van Gogh were few of the eminent personalities who suffered from Bipolar Disorder.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

There is no single cause for Bipolar Disorder. Genetics, family history, substance use and many other causes have been implicated.

What are its Symptoms?

Extreme mood swings from sad and hopeless to joyful, enthusiastic and overexcited.

It is characterized by:

Less need for sleep, High energy levels, Excessive talking, Rapid flow of thoughts and ideas, Grandiosity- Belief that one has superhuman powers, Heightened belief about one’s abilities, Overspending money, Reckless behaviour, Substance abuse.
Sad mood, Hopelessness ,Low energy, Low self-esteem, Inability to experience pleasure in previously pleasurable activities, Disturbed sleep (either excessive sleepiness or insomnia),Fatigue and in some cases unexplained aches and pains, Suicidal thoughts.

Age at Onset
Bipolar Disorder could have its roots right from adolescence but is typically diagnosed at the age of 25 onwards.

An estimated 2 to 3% of the adult population of the world suffers from this condition. The figures in India are very sketchy because of poor diagnosis and reporting. However, one could safely assume that millions of Indians are patients of Bipolar Disorder.

What is the currently available Treatment?

The current line of treatment usually is with the help of broadly two categories of Medication and depending on severity of symptoms these might need augmentation. The medicines might be required to be taken lifelong.
Mood-stabilisers,  Anti-Depressants and or Anti-Psychotics as prescribed by a Psychiatrist

It is important for caregivers to a Bipolar Disorder patient to ensure that regular visits to a  Psychiatrist are scheduled and treatment plan is strictly adhered to. Abruptly stopping of medication can have disastrous results…


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