Bipolar Disorder | Causes, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment

Bipolar disorder is an illness of the brain that causes changes in function ability performed by a person, in mood and energy. This disorder is formerly known as Manic depression in which the suffering person has intense emotional states and mood swings.

Major Symptoms of BPD:

There are some commonly occurring symptoms of BPD(Bipolar disorder) as given below:

  • State of irritability
  • Feeling hopeless and empty
  • Doubt about his/her own abilities
  • Memory problems
  • The feeling of self-accusation without any reason
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
Bipolar disorder | Causes, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment
Bipolar disorder | Causes, Symptoms, Effects, and Treatment

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Does bipolar disorder have an effect on society?

Bipolar disorder is actually correlated with an increased risk of suicide in society. Many bipolar disorder patients do not fully recover their ability to function in work and social activities, and they remain impaired even in the stable phase of their illness thus it is an impairment of society whether directly or indirectly as people cut off their contacts due to depression.

Adverse effects of bipolar disorder on mental health and structure of the brain:

Bipolar disorder may change the chemical balance of the brain’s neurotransmitters. The function of these neurotransmitters is to deliver messages between areas of the brain. Three main neurotransmitters are :

  1. Dopamine
  2. Norepinephrine
  3. Serotonin

The brain is the central control center of the entire body because all of its parts are designed for different functions. In this way, the main part of the brain controls emotions, and the stress-responsive part is involved in memory formation in the hippocampus.

Researchers conducted an experiment on three different groups of participants in this experiment. The study involved 152 people without a mood disorder, 133 with bipolar disorder, and 86 with major depressive disorder. They used magnetic resonance imaging to find differences in the hippocampus of these people’s brains.

They noticed that people with bipolar disorder had a reduction in size in different areas of the hippocampus than the other two groups. This reduction in size was more apparent in people with bipolar 1 disorder, which is associated with periods of extreme mania.

In addition, GMV (gray matter volume) is also present in the spinal cord and brain (CNS), which plays an important role in the functioning of daily life. Experiments and research have revealed that gray matter volume in those parts of the brain associated with mood regulation, awareness of body states, and information processing is lower in people with bipolar disorder than in normal people.

Effects of bipolar disorder on physical health:

Although bipolar disorder does not affect directly muscles and bones as it is a mental illness thus several physical health conditions are associated with this disorder.

1- Cardiovascular Issues:

Bipolar disorder may cause cardiovascular problems. People with severe mental illness as bipolar disorder is at higher risk of early death from physical diseases and cardiovascular disorders are at the top of this list because such people experience sudden and involuntary changes in mind and body thus there are risks of unhealthy lifestyle conditions, side effects related to medication as an antidepressant, antipsychotic drugs, and biological factors related to illness of brain may cause variations in the functioning of the body and in return promoting cardiac disorders.

2- Changes in Appetite:

Several changes may occur in appetite in a person with bipolar disorder. During depressive phases, you may experience an increase in appetite, which causes weight gain and you may also experience a reverse condition when you may experience a decrease in appetite, which causes weight loss.

3- Effect on the Endocrine system

Bipolar disorder can lead to changes in libido. Mania can overload libido, whereas depression significantly reduces libido. Some people with this disorder have poor judgment and are also at increased risk of making poor decisions about sexual health.

4- Gastrointestinal System Issues

The anxiety associated with bipolar disorder can cause fatigue and irritability. It can also affect your gastrointestinal system.

Some of these effects include

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Major Types of Bipolar Disorder:

There are three main types of bipolar disorder:

  1. Bipolar 1 ( manic depression disorder)
  2. Bipolar 2
  3. Cyclothymia

Bipolar 1 Disorder :

Bipolar disorder 1 is characterized by manic episodes which may last for at least 7 days( nearly every day). A person with bipolar 1 may or may not experience major depression but experience full manic episodes.

Manic Episodes:

Manic episodes are usually feelings of high energy or being distracted. The mania can so severe that it can interfere with daily life activities. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to redirect such a person from manic episodes to a relaxed and calmer state. Such a person can make some irritational decisions involuntarily.

Symptoms of Bipolar 1:

Some symptoms of bipolar 1 are:

  • Nervousness
  • Lack of sleep (Insomnia ) or excessive sleep ( Hypersomnia)
  • Sudden mood swing of extreme happiness
  • Perilous behavior

These symptoms may be so obvious that you will have little doubt that something is wrong.

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2- Bipolar 2 Disorder:

Bipolar 2 is just the same as bipolar 1 or manic depression the only difference is that there is a cycle of highs and lows in mood swings over time. Actually, bipolar 2 is less severe than bipolar 1 disorder but it is a serious illness that must be diagnosed and treated in time otherwise it can turn into a quite severe and persistent disorder. The”extremely high” swing can reach full-blown mania however “extreme lows” mood swings can cause depression. Sometimes these changes may also become mixed at that moment you can feel elated and depressed at the same time.

Symptoms of Bipolar 2 Disorder:

Here are some symptoms of bipolar 2 disorder given below:

  • You may be abnormally optimistic which may be strange
  • Over- an elaborate sense of well-being and state of euphoria.
  • Agitation
  • Suddenly unusual talkativeness
  • The decreased need for sleep

3- Cyclothymia:

Cyclothymia is a rare mood disorder in which you may experience emotional ups and downs but these are not the same as extreme as in bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 disorder. A cyclothymic patient experience depression periods when there are shifts in ups and downs from normal baseline. Prolonged stress, sexual and physical abuse, and traumas can also trigger cyclothymia.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder:

There may be several causes of bipolar disorder. Some of them are discussed here.

  • Genetically Inherited
  • Environmental Factors
  • Childhood Traumas
  • Physical and Sexual Abuses

1- Genetically Inherited:

Research suggests that bipolar disorder is mostly a genetic disorder that runs in families often from one generation to the next generation with or without gaps. Many genes are involved in this disorder but people with certain genes are more vulnerable to developing bipolar disorder than others.

2- Environmental Factors:

Some environmental factors such as stressful life and negative attitude of people etc also play a vital role in trigger to illness or reverting of symptoms.

3- Childhood Traumas:

A sudden event such as childhood trauma can be a risk factor for developing bipolar disorder. In fact, these traumas earlier in a child’s life lead to altered impulse control, neurotransmitter pathway changes, and cognitive function that can reduce the ability to cope with later life stressors.

Another important fact about childhood trauma is that it can interact with different genes belonging to different biological pathways (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, serotonin transmission process, neuroplasticity, circadian rhythms, etc.) to reduce the age of onset of the disorder.

Childhood trauma can be severe and causes the removal of the GMV (gray matter volume) in the amygdala (the integration center for emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation) and the complex brain structure of the hippocampus embedded in the temporal lobe and involved in learning and memory, etc. ).

4- Physical and Sexual Abuses:

Severe sexual and childhood physical abuse has been found in approximately half of adults with bipolar disorder. These abuses are related to elevated levels of depression as well. Experiencing physical and sexual abuse at an early age leads to lasting variations in the hippocampus, HPA, norepinephrine, and cortisol system which cause a rise in stress sensitivity and difficulties in controlling emotions which in last become involuntary and of course a cause of BPD( Bipolar disorder).

How do you diagnose bipolar disorder?

If you suffer from bipolar disorder, then you need prompt medication or therapy according to the stage. You need to see your doctor. For diagnosis, the doctor will do a physical exam, ask you about your symptoms, and may suggest some blood tests to make sure it is not another condition like hypothyroidism, etc. If the doctor cannot find the underlying cause of the symptoms, they will do a psychological examination. Psychiatrists or mental health professionals may ask you some personal questions about your family history to point out whether or not it is a genetic problem, as bipolar disorder is often a genetically inherited disorder.

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder(BPD):

There are mostly 2 methods to deal with depression and such disorders which are:

1- Medication

2- Therapy

1- Medication:

Patients with bipolar disorder need stabilizing medications to control manic or hypomanic episodes. Lithium has been used to treat bipolar disorder for over 60 years. Lithium, a simple metal in pills, is very effective in controlling mood swings in bipolar disorder. Examples of the best mood stabilizers are Lithium (Lithobid), valproic acid (Depakene), and carbamazepine (Equetro, Tegretol, and others). Mood-stabilizing medications work to improve social interaction, mood, and behavior and are usually recommended for the treatment and prevention of bipolar mood states, which range from lows of depression to highs of mania or hypomania.

Treatment of Bipolar Disorder
Treatment of Bipolar Disorder

Use of Antidepressants and their side effects


Mostly psychotherapy is suggested for the treatment of bipolar disorder. It has some other types which are given below:


It is the use of psychological methods, especially if they are based on regular personal interaction, with the aim of motivating and helping a person to change behavior, increase happiness and overcome problems. Psychotherapy is also called “talking therapy,” in which professionals use talking-based approaches to help someone recover from mental health problems.

Various forms of psychotherapy:

1- CBT(Cognitive behavioral therapy)

2- Psychodynamic therapy

3- Dialectical behavioral therapy

4- Humanistic therapy

1- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:

CBT helps an individual identify and change negative thoughts and related behaviors. People suffering from depression often struggle with negative thought patterns. These thought patterns. can influence our behavior.

2- Psychodynmaic Therapy:

Psychodynamic therapy is an approach that involves facilitating a deeper understanding of one’s own emotions. It works by helping people gain more insight into how they feel and think. By improving this understanding, people can then make better decisions about their lives. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes as they manifest in the client’s current behavior.

3- Humanistic Therapy:

Humanistic therapy is used to treat depression, anxiety, and personality disorders, etc. This therapy is also known as Humanism. it is a positive approach to psychotherapy that focuses on the nature of individual person, rather than the group of people with the same characteristics or problems. This humanistic therapy focuses less on pathology, the past of the person, and environmental factors on a person’s behavior, and more on the positive side of human nature.

4- Dialectical Behavior Therapy:

Dialectical behavior therapy is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy. DBT can be used to treat suicidal and other self-destructive behaviors. DBT is very effective for people who have difficulty managing and controlling their emotions.

DBT is also a type of talk therapy that convinces patients with the great behavior of professional psychiatrists to change and help them cope with bipolar disorder. As we know, good behavior is easier to remember and attract the attention of patients, which has a lasting effect on their mind, helping them in the recovery process.