Effects of Bipolar Disorder

Also known as "manic depression", bipolar disorder is one of the mood disorders characterized by alternating episodes of mood elation and depression. The stages of mood elation sometimes approach mania. Bipolar disorder is one of the leading psychiatric disorders around the globe.

The term “bipolar disorder” entails a wide spectrum of conditions including bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymia. These conditions differ from each other in terms of the frequency and intensity of mood swings, the amount of mania and the duration for which the symptoms last.

Effects of Bipolar Disorder

Like every other psychiatric illness, bipolar disorder affects not only the patient but also reflects on the lives of people who are close to the patient. Bipolar disorder influences every aspect of the patient’s life like health, work, finances, relationships, social interactions etc. Here is how bipolar disorder affects the life of the individual suffering from it.

1.     Mental Effects of Bipolar Disorder

  • Low Mood: Patients of bipolar disorder go through multiple periods of depressed mood with feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness and loss of the sense of self-worth.
  • Other Medical Illness: Patients of bipolar disorder are prone to develop the health conditions associated with it like thyroid disorders, migraine, heart problems, breathing difficulties, diabetes, obesity, chronic pain, etc.
  • Judgmental Incapacitation: Bipolar disorder leaves a person unable to make important life decisions. His/her ability to concentrate is also affected to a great extent.
  • Self-Harm: During the maniac and depressive episodes, the person may try to harm himself by cutting or burning himself.
  • Suicide: Like other depressive conditions, the person suffering from bipolar disorder is often plagued by suicidal thoughts. At times, the patient may act on these impulses and may even commit suicide.

2.     Physical Effects of Bipolar Disorder

  • Fatigue: Patients of bipolar disorder feel quite fatigued and lethargic because of the decreased amount of energy that results from inadequate sleep and food intake. Bodily aches and pains are also quite common.
  • Change of Daily Habits: Disturbed eating and sleeping habits is one of the most common effects with bipolar disorder. The person is often unable to sleep and the resulting insomnia can trigger the depressive and manic episodes.
  • STDS: Patients suffering bipolar disorder are more likely to have unprotected and risky sex in order to escape from the current condition, which could esaily lead to STDS.
  • Difficulty breathing is not uncommon during episodes of bipolar disorder.
  • Health conditions such as weight gain, hear problems, diabetes may also occur.
  • Alcoholism: Emotional instability, depression and mood swings may lead a person to start drinking heavily as a form of escape from his condition.
  • Drug Dependence: Intense bouts of depression and elation may lead the patient of bipolar disorder to seek refuge in drugs resulting in drug addiction and dependency.

3     Social Effects of Bipolar Disorder

  • Loss of Job: Unreliability and emotional liability of the patient during the depressive and manic periods may lead him to lose his job.
  • Financial Difficulties: Lack of a job, combined with the treatment expenditure and refusal of people to financially support the patient due to his/her unreliability can result into an economic crisis for the patient.
  • Relationship Problems: Inability of the friends and family to understand that a person might have succumbed to a psychiatric illness, the intense mood swings of the patients of bipolar disorder can cause relationship problems. The closest relations are affected the worst of all. The person might even become socially withdrawn.

Effects on Family

If a bipolar disorder patient goes untreated, his/her condition can exert a heavy toll on the family. It can result in:

  • Feelings of sadness, guilt and anxiety
  • Disturbed routine
  • Coping with the recklessness of the patient during manic episodes
  • Financial distress
  • Strained relationships
  • Role reversal
  • Social isolation
  • Health problems as a result of constant anxiety

Effective Ways to Manage Bipolar Disorder

However incapacitating bipolar disorder may be, it is, fortunately, a treatable illness. Here are some of the ways through which bipolar disorder can be effectively managed.

1.      Lifestyle Changes

Here are some of the lifestyle changes that can help improve the condition.

  • Sleeping adequately is imperative since insomnia can trigger the depressive or manic symptoms.
  • Engaging in positive pleasure activities can help overcome depression.
  • Since social withdrawal is one of the common effects of bipolar disorder, seeking company instead of isolating oneself can help.
  • Maintaining a routine can prevent the onset of symptoms.
  • Reaching out to friends and family for psychological support can help.
  • Avoiding drugs and alcohol can help improve cognitive functions.
  • Exercising in order to decrease the weight can help prevent diseases like heart problems and diabetes.

2.      Medications

Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be effectively controlled with medicines, most important of which is lithium. The administration of lithium, however, requires close regulation of its dose in order to avoid its side effects.

3.      Psychotherapy

Psychiatrists use various forms of psychotherapy, especially Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in order to stabilize the mood of the patient. Interpersonal therapy can help improve the relationship problems faced by patients of bipolar disorder.

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