Understand Early Signs of Bipolar Disorder and Treatments

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that affects nearly six million adults in America. From professional athletes to movie stars, people from all walks of life have been diagnosed as being bipolar. Over time, the drastic mood swings and depression can take a toll on every aspect of a person’s life.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Genetics

There’s a strong indication that bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Two-thirds of bipolar sufferers have a family member who has the disease. However, researchers are still uncertain about the actual genetic factors that cause bipolar disorder. So, there’s a lot more fieldwork that must be done.

Chemical Imbalance

Bipolar disorder can also be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Certain chemical messengers, such as serotonin and norepinephrine, may start to malfunction. While the imbalance can occur at any given time, it’s more likely to be triggered by a traumatic event such as the death of a close friend or relative.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors can put one more at risk of developing bipolar disorder. If a person happens to live in a poverty-stricken area, the chances of them experiencing bipolar disorder increase dramatically. Children who grow up in an abusive or neglectful household are also prone to developing this mental illness. Bad childhood experiences can haunt a person for years.

Substance Abuse

After abusing drugs or alcohol for a long period of time, parts of the brain that affects mood can become rewired. This means a person will be more susceptible to bipolar disorder. Continuing to abuse drugs will only lead to further damage.

Common Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Medication

Upon being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, one’s doctor may prescribe medication. Lithium is one of the most common bipolar drugs since it’s designed to help stabilize a person’s mood. Meanwhile, olanzapine and other antipsychotics are used to help resolve the brain’s chemical imbalance. Although benzodiazepines aren’t meant to be used on a long-term basis, they are given to patients to help with sudden bouts of anxiety.

Despite the popularity of bipolar medications, there are potential side effects to be aware of. Some of those include hand trembling, sexual problems, liver damage, and nausea.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is yet another key aspect of treating bipolar disorder. It typically involves a person sitting down with a therapist to discuss ways to manage the illness. The therapist will teach positive coping strategies and tips on managing symptoms. Often times, family therapy will be a part of a person’s treatment. In order to truly help, one’s family needs to gain a better understanding of the disease. Peer groups are available as well.

Inpatient Treatment

In the event that a bipolar condition spirals out of control, one may need to be treated at a hospital or special care facility. The goal is to improve a person’s mood and cater to any suicidal thoughts. They will also be given access to outpatient support.

Alternative Treatments You Might Not Know About

Fish Oil

According to several studies, fish oil can lower one’s risk of developing bipolar disorder. It seems the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil do a great job of helping alleviate depression. Because it’s difficult to obtain enough fish oil by eating a normal diet, consider taking supplements.

Rhodiola Rosea

This herb has been found to help mild depression. Some users have reported a noticeable improvement in their state of mind.

However, it may not be a good idea to take rhodiola rosea in large doses. It can cause some bad side effects, including lucid dreams and nausea. Women should be especially apprehensive about using rhodiola rosea. Research indicates it can mesh with estrogen receptors to increase the risk of breast cancer.

Magnesium

Consuming more magnesium can certainly help lift one’s mood. This nutrient has the ability to raise serotonin levels. Because magnesium is naturally found inside the body, it’s especially safe. Magnesium overdoses are extremely rare.

Some of the best sources of magnesium include spinach, avocados, and almonds.

Create Art

Looking for an easy way to reduce raise one’s spirits, consider creating artwork as it’ll help a person to reduce pent-up emotions. The artwork can even be used as a way to monitor one’s symptoms. Simply painting an abstract picture can make a big difference.

Early Signs and Symptoms

Up-and-Down Mood

When experiencing bipolar disorder, one can expect to have an up-and-down mood. While a person may begin the day in a high-energy state, it’s only a matter of time before their emotional frame starts to dramatically go downhill. Irritability will soon follow. As such, your family and friends are bound to take notice.

Inability to Complete Tasks

Bipolar individuals tend to have a hard time completing tasks. For example, a person may start to clean their home. However, a distracted mind causes them to move on to another task before they’re finished. As time goes on, there will be several half-finished projects on one’s plate.

Rapid Disorganized Speech

It’s common for a person with bipolar disorder to talk rapidly. Mind racing may come along with the rapid speech. Instead of sticking to one topic, they will frantically jump from one subject to the next. Their conversation will seem especially disorganized to other people.

Erratic Sleep Patterns

Sleep problems often stem from having bipolar disorder. During the manic phase of the illness, a person will not want to sleep. On the other hand, the depressive phase may cause one to lie in the bed for the majority of the day.

Increased Alcohol Use

Bipolar disorder and increased alcohol consumption frequently go hand in hand. In an effort to make oneself feel better, a person may start to drink more than usual. If they aren’t careful, an addiction will soon to develop.

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