Living with bipolar disorder & depression

There’s a fine line between normal and abnormal.

That’s why suffering from bipolar disorder is much more than just dealing with mood swings and shifting from happy to sad.  

Bipolar disorder is a serious mood disorder and a devastating mental illness to deal with.

It might take years for you to get the right diagnoses from a professional, months to find the medication that works best for you, years in psychotherapy to help you deal with bipolar disorder on a daily basis and long term.

But baby steps turn into giant leaps, and throughout your treatment journey you will learn many useful techniques to improve your quality of life.

You will also learn to have a stable sense of self and to accept and love yourself. 

What it feels like to have bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder diagnosis
bipolar disorder mind mental health connection watercolor painting illustration hand drawing design symbol

People who suffer from bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings that affect their quality of life and performance.

These intense mood swings consist of Manic or Hypomanic episodes ( milder form of manic episodes)  and Depressive episodes.  

The duration of either Manic episodes or depressive episodes differ from person to person depending on the type of bipolar disorder they suffer from.

Bipolar disorder Symptoms

What makes bipolar disorder hard to diagnose is that mood swings don’t follow certain patterns, it’s individual.

Some patients might suffer from major depression for months or even years, while others might suffer from rapid cycling or mixed episodes.

The severity of each episode differs form person to person, besides external factors that might also have a major role in making symptoms less or more severe.

(Alcohol and drug abuse can cause an induced episode and psychosis)

In general, bipolar disorder symptoms cause functioning and behavioral problems that affect the patient’s performance at work or school as well as causing relationships difficulties.

Bipolar mania and hypomania

Hypomanic and manic episodes are two distinct types of episodes in bipolar disorder but they share most of the symptoms, with hypomania being less severe.

The symptoms of mania and hypomania include:

  • Being Abnormally upbeat and wired and feeling  Excessively happy, hopeful and excited.
  • Increased energy and making unrealistic plans.
  • Feeling euphoric and having an exaggerated self-confidence.
  • Sudden irritability, feeling angry and hostile.
  • Racing thoughts.
  • Rapid speech, unusual talkativeness and poor concentration.
  • Becoming easily distracted.
  • Restlessness and Decreased need for sleep.
  • High sex drive.
  • Weight loss or weight gain.
  • Showing poor judgment and Poor decision-making (may include excessive spending and taking sexual risks)
  • Becoming more impulsive.
  • Alcohol and drug abuse.

Psychosis in bipolar disorder

The psychotic symptoms caused by manic episodes include:

  • Auditory or visual hallucinations.
  • delusions.
  • reduced social contact or social withdrawal.
  • Having difficulty communicating clearly.
  • Paranoia and suspiciousness towards others. 
  • less expression of emotions.
  • Experiencing anxiety.
  • irrational thoughts and disturbed speech.
  • lack of awareness.

Bipolar major depressive episodes

In many cases patients suffer from Major depression after manic or hypomanic episodes.

 But that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is always the case, as patients might suffer from Major depression without experiencing mania or hypo mania.

The symptoms of major depression are: 

  • Extreme sadness, hopelessness and emptiness.
  • Constant feeling of worthlessness and unjustified guilt.
  • Losing interest in all activities that they once enjoyed.
  • Feeling no pleasure in life.
  • Feeling exhausted and sleeping too much or suffering from insomnia.
  • Weight loss or weight gain.
  • Loss of energy and fatigue.
  • Restlessness or taking more time than usual in daily activities.
  • Difficulty making decisions and inability to concentrate.
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide.

Bipolar types & Comorbidity

As we mentioned before the main symptoms of bipolar disorder are mania, hypomania and depression, but their severity depends on the type of bipolar disorder the patient suffers from.

Bipolar Types

There are several types of bipolar disorder but the most common types are:

Bipolar I disorder

Patients who suffer from bipolar I must experience at least 1 full blown manic episode, followed by hypomanic and a major depressive episode.

The manic episode will most likely trigger psychosis and the patient might need hospitalization.

Bipolar II disorder

Patients who suffer from Bipolar II will experience at least 1 manic episode follow by a major depressive episode.

Cyclothymic disorder 

Patients who suffer from Cyclothymic disorder will experience at least 1 year of hypomania followed by a less serve form of depression.

Comorbidity

Bipolar Patients may also suffer from from anxiety disorders, personality disorders and psychosis.

The most common comorbid Personality disorders include borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, etc.

Bipolar disorder treatment process

Bipolar disorder healing process painting
Water color painting for bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, but it can be managed through psychotherapy and medication. 

That’s why if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above please contact a professional.

From personal experience, Therapy is really worth it, it has completely changed my life and 4 years later I’m a different person, and so can you.

 you’ll get the medication needed to reduce the severity of your mood swings and you will learn how to deal with your illness and be high functioning and successful. 

The medications used by professionals to treat bipolar disorder are mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics and anti-depressants.

The dosage of each medication depends on the full diagnoses and the severity of the episodes.

It’s a tough, journey for bipolar patients but the earlier you seek professional help the better.

A quick reminder that Self awareness and self acceptance will always help you throughout your self love journey.