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“Understanding Bipolar Disorder: Signs, Symptoms and Strategies to Manage It”

Introduction

In recent years, mental health problems have risen sharply for a variety of reasons. As per the WHO report of July 2022, nearly one billion people are living with mental health conditions in 2019. Imagine, nearly 13% of the world’s population with 82% people from low- and middle-income countries. The incidents of mental illnesses are almost taking the shape of a ‘global epidemic.” Among them, anxiety and depression are the most common.

What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is also considered an important mental health condition. Imagine your mood being like a rollercoaster. That’s kind of like bipolar disorder, affecting millions worldwide. It’s like having two extremes of mood: mania, where you feel super up and energized, and depression, where everything feels dark and heavy. These swings can happen over days, weeks, or even months.

It is a complex disorder that causes significant shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and concentration. These shifts can be extreme, ranging from periods of mania (elevated mood, hyperactivity, and impulsivity) to depression (low mood, loss of interest, and fatigue).

Symptoms of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition where a person’s mood changes a lot. There are several types of bipolar and related disorders. Symptoms can cause unpredictable changes in mood and behaviour, resulting in significant difficulty in life. Sometimes they feel very happy and full of energy. Other times, they feel very sad and have low energy. These mood swings can affect how they think and behave.

According to Mayo Clinic, a non-profit American Academic Centre, Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, is a mental health condition that causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression).

These signs can be tricky because everyone experiences mood swings sometimes. But with bipolar disorder, these extremes are intense, disruptive, and last for longer periods.

Handling bipolar disorder

What can you do if you or someone you know lives with bipolar disorder? First, remember it’s a manageable condition with the right support. Treatment usually involves medication, counselling, and psychotherapy, helping you understand and regulate your moods.

Building healthy routines, setting realistic goals, and getting enough sleep can also make a big difference. And most importantly, having a strong support system of friends, family, and healthcare professionals is key.

Medication and Therapy: Sometimes, medication is needed along with therapy. Medicines can help balance mood swings. But therapy is important too. It helps people understand their condition and how to live with it. Therapy isn’t just about talking. It’s also about learning new skills. These skills help people make better decisions and build stronger relationships.

How Counselling Helps: Counselling is a type of talk therapy. It helps people with bipolar disorder understand their feelings. A counsellor listens and gives advice. They create a safe space where someone can talk about their feelings without judgment. In counselling, people learn ways to manage their mood swings. They learn how to notice when their mood is changing and what to do about it. This helps them feel more in control.

The Role of a Psychotherapist: A psychotherapist is like a counsellor but with more professional training. They help people understand deeper problems. They work on finding out why these mood swings happen and how to deal with them. Psychotherapists use different methods to help. They might talk about past experiences and how this affects someone’s mood. They can teach coping skills. These skills help people deal with their feelings in a healthier way.

Different Types of Therapy: There are different kinds of therapy for bipolar disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is one. It helps change negative thought patterns. Another type is Family Therapy. This involves family members in the treatment process. Each person is different. So, the therapy that works for one person might not work for another. The key is to find the right kind of therapy and the right therapist.

Social Support System: Support groups can be helpful. They connect people with bipolar disorder. It feels good to talk to others who understand what you’re going through. Building and nurturing healthy relationships with family and close friends is very helpful in managing the health condition.

Power of Self-care: Self-care for mental health problems is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it’s about discovering and practising what helps you feel better, calmer and more in control. It could be prioritizing healthy sleep, regular exercise, and balanced meals to build a strong foundation.

Mindfulness practices like meditation or deep breathing can help ground you in the present moment and manage difficult emotions. Pursuing hobbies, and spending time in nature can offer comfort and joy. Learning and understanding your triggers and developing healthy coping mechanisms like journaling or creative expression can equip you to navigate challenging situations. We need to keep in mind that self-care is a journey, you must be patient, and discover what works best for you.

Conclusion

Bipolar disorder is a part of many people’s lives, but it doesn’t have to control them. Besides, medication, counselling and a psychotherapist can help to control the symptoms. Through psychotherapy, people can learn to manage their condition. The social support system plays a great role in managing not only bipolar disorder but all other mental health conditions. You need to seek professional help. Seeking help is a sign of strength. If you or someone you know has bipolar disorder, reaching out for help is the first step towards restoring the balance of mind, body, and soul.

The author is a writer, life coach, and the founder of Mind Therapy, a venture in mental health.