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What Are The Different Types Of Bipolar Spectrum & How Is It Treated?

About Bipolar Disorder:

Bipolar Disorder is a form of a mood disorder characterized by a variety of symptoms to include frequent mood swings, frequent changes of thought processes, and problems with speech. The symptoms are variable in severity. Bipolar Disorder can significantly impact the everyday life of an individual whether it is school or office. How bad are the changes in mood depends on the severity of the condition. While bipolar disorder makes life difficult for the affected individual, studies have suggested that it can increase creativity and build a positive attitude in these people. The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that there are around 3% of active cases of bipolar disorder in the United States. The average age of the patient is believed to be anywhere between 20 and 25 years when the symptoms reach their peak [1].

However, the symptoms can be observed during childhood as well. Bipolar Disorder is considered to be spectrum disorder as the symptoms involve both ends of the emotional; spectrum with the individual having extremes of very elated or depressed mood. There are also cases where an individual with bipolar disorder does not face any problems functioning in everyday life but such cases are very few. However, studies have proved that most people with bipolar disorder either are misdiagnosed or undertreated [1].

There are basically four types of Bipolar Disorders, namely Bipolar I disorder, Bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and Not Otherwise Specified [1]. The details of these types of Bipolar Disorders and the way to manage these conditions have been detailed below in the article.

What Are The Different Types Of Bipolar Spectrum?

Before going into the details of the various types of bipolar spectrum, it is important to know the causes of bipolar disorder. The root cause of this condition as of now is not known. However, there are certain factors which may influence the development of bipolar disorder like abnormality in the neurotransmitters in the brain. Certain genetic abnormalities are also responsible for the development of bipolar disorder. Studies have shown that people with this condition often tend to have a family history of bipolar disorder. Studies also reveal that some people may have all the risk factors mentioned above but still may not develop any symptom of bipolar disorder [2].

In some cases, excessive stress and use of antidepressants can also trigger off a manic episode. Bipolar disorder is a condition that has always been a challenge for physicians to diagnose. This is because of the significant variability in the symptoms experienced and the different types of symptoms experienced between the two extreme spectrums of bipolar disorder. There are also other mood disorders that have similar symptoms which makes the diagnosis even tougher. These include ADHD, depressive disorder and schizophrenia [2].

Coming to the different types of Bipolar Spectrum, these include:

Bipolar I Disorder: In this form, the affected individual will have at least once episode of full blown mania which will be of at least a week in duration. In some cases, the patient may even have to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. The individual will have periods of depressive and elated mood in alternation within a short period of time. This alternation of high and low moods alternating poses significant challenge to the life of the affected individual and hospital admission becomes necessary due to a high risk that the patient may cause to himself or others [2].

Another feature of bipolar I disorder is that the individual will have periods of psychosis. This may occur during the depressive or manic periods of the condition and necessitates urgent medical evaluation [2].

Bipolar II Disorder: This is the second types that occur during bipolar spectrum. In this type, the patient experiences at least one manic episode in a span of a couple of weeks along with a hypomanic episode lasting for at least three to four days. During a hypomanic episode, the manic episodes are quite severe but never goes on to a full blown mania [2].

Cyclothymic Disorder: This is another condition that occurs in bipolar spectrum. People with this condition will experience periods of depressive and elated moods numerous times over a period of two years or so. In cases of children, these episodes will be present for a minimum of a year. The symptoms in these cases never go into remission and the individual will always have some or the other symptom of bipolar disorder [2].

Not Otherwise Specified: This is the category given to those individuals who have symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not fall under any category of the spectrum mentioned above [2].

How Is Bipolar Disorder and Its Different Types Treated?

Coming to the treatment of bipolar disorder, as stated it is quite a challenge to treat it. This will require the services of a highly skilled psychiatrist.

The various treatment options for bipolar disorder include use of medications and psychotherapy. In some cases, electroconvulsive therapy is also used to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Medications preferred to treat bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is extremely effective in treating the symptoms of depressive and elated mood of bipolar disorder [2]. This therapy can be done with the patient alone or along with the family members of the patient. This therapy helps the individual in finding new ways to cope up with the symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Electroconvulsive therapy is normally reserved for people with severe symptoms that are unresponsive to other forms of treatment. This treatment involves passing of mild electric currents through to the brain. This is done to induce a seizure which improves the symptoms of bipolar disorder [2]. However, there is no clear understanding as to how seizure improves the symptoms but this form of treatment is believed to be quite effective.

It is also essential for an individual with bipolar disorder to have knowledge of when an episode of mania or depression is about to strike. This will give the patient ample time to prepare self herself accordingly and even avoid the symptoms [2]. The common triggers for the onset of symptoms like alcohol, poor sleep hygiene, and stressful situations are all common triggers and should be avoided.

Practicing yoga or meditation is a good way of coping with stress and keep the mind calm and deal with stressful situation at work or at home in a constructive manner [2].

Such treatments may take time to take effect but once an individual with bipolar disorder does functional remediation diligently then it is highly possible to completely get rid of the symptoms of bipolar disorder and lead a fulfilling life. Coming to medications, the response to them differs from individual to individual and some medications also have significant side effect profile. Thus it is recommended to use the medication only as directed by the physician [2].

In case if there is a side effect or the symptoms are getting worse, then getting in touch with the treating physician is of paramount importance. It is also quite helpful for people with bipolar disorder to join a support group where they can interact with other people who have the same disorder and discuss the symptoms and ways to cope with them. It is also quite helpful to take up a new hobby to distract the mind and deal with the stress to prevent any exacerbation of symptoms [2].

As of now, research is going on as to finding new treatment strategies which aim at evolving creativity are sensitiveness inside the individual. It is necessary for people with bipolar disorder to focus on what they can accomplish rather than crib on what they cannot do as a result of bipolar disorder [2].

In conclusion, bipolar disorder is quite a serious medical condition which affects the how the affected individual functions in everyday life. It is a condition that persists for the entire life of the individual and requires periodic medical attention. If this condition is untreated, then the condition can worsen to the extent that the individual may pose a threat to self or others. There may be suicidal ideations and even attempts. The individual’s relationships may get impacted as a result of this mood disorder [1, 2].

Bipolar Spectrum refers to the two emotional extents of bipolar disorder which are depressive state and elation state. During the depressive state, the patient will prefer to stay alone and will not find interest in doing anything whether at work or at home. During the elation phase, the patient will be hyperactive and may speak continuously without a pause. He or she will be extremely restless. Lack of sleep is also quite common during the elated mood of bipolar disorder [1, 2].

These two states will interchange on a frequent basis in an individual with bipolar disorder. The best option to cope up with the symptoms is to get the condition diagnosed accurately in the first place which is always a challenge for the physicians due to the similarity of symptoms with other mood disorders. Once the condition is diagnosed, proper treatment with medications, psychotherapy, and even electroconvulsive therapy is also used to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder [1, 2].

It has been observed that with proper treatment and practicing yoga and functional remediation to address stress, an individual with bipolar disorder can lead a normal, healthy, and productive life [1, 2].


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:November 5, 2019

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