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31 May, 24

Understanding and Managing Bipolar Disorder: A Comprehensive Guide


I'm sure you might have come across the term ‘bipolar disorder’ at some point in your life. It is one of the common mental health disorders seen in celebrities and has become somewhat of a common term. But this doesn't mean that the medical condition doesn't need professional attention. In this blog, let us gain a comprehensive understanding of bipolar disorder.

What Exactly Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, which used to be called manic-depressive illness, is a complicated mental illness marked by repeated mood changes, such as manic or hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes. It's a mood disease that affects about 2% to 3% of people around the world. Bipolar disorder is caused by genetic, neurological, and environmental factors. About 60–80% of qualities are inherited. Numerous genes that regulate neurotransmitters, diurnal cycles, and synapses are associated with the condition.

Neurobiologically, bipolar disorder involves dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine nerve system issues. Bipolar illness can induce unusual feelings due to chemical imbalances. Problems in the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and striatum neural circuits also cause mood dysregulation.

Alternating manic or hypomanic and depressed episodes characterize bipolar disorder. Mixed episodes may occur when both mood states are present. A high mood, loads of energy, not needing to sleep, racing thoughts, feeling grandiose, acting without thinking, and being more irritated are signs of mania. Hypomania has similar symptoms, but they're less intense and easier to manage. Depressed people feel unhappy all the time, lose interest in things, are exhausted, have eating or weight fluctuations, have difficulties in sleeping, feel useless or guilty, and have suicidal thoughts.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

The exact causes of bipolar disorder are not fully understood, but research suggests that it is likely the result of a combination of genetic, neurobiological, and environmental factors.

Genetic Factors

Bipolar disorder runs in families, suggesting genes are involved. Families, twins, and adoption studies consistently reveal that relatives of bipolar illness patients are more likely to get it. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have linked many genetic variations to bipolar illness. However, each variable only increases the risk somewhat. Scientists believe these genetic variants can alter mood-regulating biological mechanisms. These include neurotransmitter signaling, circadian rhythm modulation, and brain plasticity. No gene causes bipolar illness alone. This suggests that several genes and environmental factors cause the illness. Genetics may affect how bipolar illness develops, affecting symptoms, treatment results, and recurrence rates. DNA methylation and histone modification may alter gene expression and cause bipolar illness. Genetic factors are a major risk factor for bipolar illness, but researchers are still studying how they interact with environmental circumstances.

Neurobiological Factors

Bipolar illness patients have brain form and function issues, according to neurobiological research. The striatum, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex, which govern emotions, have changed in size, connectivity, and activity in imaging studies. Bipolar disorder is considered to affect neurotransmitter systems, including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. These substances can disrupt your mood and increase the likelihood of manic or depressive episodes. Intracellular signaling pathways and synaptic transmission issues may induce neurochemical imbalance in bipolar disorder. Neurodevelopmental variables, including early brain development or synaptic pruning, may potentially cause structural and functional brain issues in bipolar illness. Genetic predisposition and neurobiological deficiencies may also make people more susceptible to stress and mood swings. Neurobiology research helps us understand bipolar illness and develop novel treatments that target brain chemistry and structural issues.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors contribute to bipolar disorder, along with genetic and neurobiological variables. Stressful life experiences like tragedy, loss, or major transitions might cause mood episodes in those prone to them. Long-term stress can disrupt the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) system. This can alter cortisol levels and cause mood swings. Alcohol, steroids, and illicit drugs can worsen or trigger manic or depressed episodes in bipolar disorder patients. Odd sleep habits or working schedules can also disrupt circadian rhythms and cause mood disorders. Family interactions, social support networks, and socioeconomic status can also impact bipolar disorder progression and prognosis. Genetic and neurobiological vulnerabilities may interact with environmental influences to alter bipolar illness symptoms and drug efficacy. Understanding genetic, neurological, and environmental variables is crucial to developing comprehensive bipolar disorder prevention, diagnosis, and treatment methods.

Other Factors

Beyond genetic, neurological, and environmental variables, medical disorders and lifestyle may affect bipolar disorder development and course. Thyroid diseases, multiple sclerosis, and neurological illnesses can mimic or worsen bipolar disorder symptoms. Thyroid dysfunction is connected to mood abnormalities. and can cause mood instability in bipolar disorder patients. Bipolar illness patients often misuse alcohol and stimulants, which can impede treatment. Circadian rhythm disturbances like irregular sleep habits, jet lag, or shift work may also affect mood stability and exacerbate mood episodes. Diet, exercise, and stress management may potentially affect bipolar illness and complement pharmaceutical and psychotherapy treatments. Social determinants of health, including socioeconomic position, healthcare access, and culture, may also affect bipolar illness diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. Comprehensive biopsychosocial interventions can improve bipolar illness outcomes and quality of life.

The Common Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is characterized by distinct periods of mood disturbances, which include manic or hypomanic episodes and depressive episodes. These episodes are often interspersed with periods of normal mood. Here are the common symptoms associated with each type of episode:

Manic Episode Symptoms

Manic episodes are characterized by extreme happiness, excitement, and restlessness, as well as increased energy and activity. These incidents usually make things difficult and require medical attention. Common indicators of manic episodes include:

  • More energy and activity: They may do too many goal-oriented things at once, like working on several projects at once.
  • Less need for sleep: They might feel relaxed after only a few hours of sleep, or they might have long times of insomnia.
  • Thoughts that race: Your thoughts may be racing around a lot, which can make it hard to think or focus on things.
  • Grandiosity: Some people may have a high opinion of themselves and think they have special skills or abilities.
  • Talkativeness may get worse: speech may be fast, rushed, or hard to stop.
  • Impulsivity: They might do risky things like spending too much money, having sexual encounters that could be dangerous, or abusing drugs.
  • Distractibility: Things that aren't important can easily take your attention away.

Hypomanic Episode Symptoms

Hypomanic episodes are similar to manic episodes but shorter and less severe. Hypomanic persons have greater vitality, creativity, and social abilities than manic ones, but they operate better. The most important hypomanic symptoms are:

  • They might do things that help them reach their goals and talk a lot or have fast-moving thoughts.
  • Hypomanic events are often accompanied by more socializing and getting things done.
  • Even with these good effects, hypomania can still cause people to act impulsively or in dangerous ways, especially when they don't have good sense.

Depressive Episode Symptoms

People with depressive episodes frequently feel unhappy, empty, or powerless and lose interest in things. These incidents disrupt normal living and may increase suicide risk. The most common signs of depression are:

  • Loss of pleasure or interest: They may lose interest in things they used to enjoy and find it hard to feel pleasure.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy: Doing even easy things can be tiring, which can make you less motivated and less productive.
  • Changes in weight or hunger: Your appetite may go up or down, which can cause you to gain or lose weight.
  • Sleep problems: Some people may have sleeplessness or hypersomnia, which means they sleep too much.
  • Psychomotor anxiety or retardation: Your movements may slow down or you may feel restless and unable to relax .

Seek The Right Treatment

If you feel you might have bipolar disorder or know someone who has bipolar disorder, then you can seek the help of professional psychologists that Zivanza Wellness offers. All you have to do is give us a call and we will take care of the rest.


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