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Bipolar disorder: 10 characteristics and curiosities that you did not know

Bipolar disorder: 10 characteristics and curiosities that you did not know

May 6, 2021

Bipolar disorder is one of the most well-known psychological disorders. However, the zero or little information to which some people have access causes that they really do not know what bipolar disorder is or have a wrong idea about its characteristics.

For example, there is a myth that bipolarity It has to do with showing multiple personalities over time, constantly changing tastes and hobbies or, in general, having a chaotic behavior. Of course, the concept of bipolar disorder has nothing to do with this very ambiguous conception of this mental alteration.

That's why, in today's article, we have proposed to elaborate a list of 10 characteristic points of this pathology that, in general, people do not know or confuse.


What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, as has already been said, is one of the mental disorders most known to the population (if only by name), and is a pathology that affects how an individual feels, thinks and acts . Its characteristic feature are the exaggerated changes in the mood, because, generally, a person goes through a manic phase and a depressive one. These changes occur in a cyclical way, passing through stages of mania Y depression to the point of leaving the person partially incapacitated for certain things and / or with a seriously compromised quality of life.

And is that bipolar disorder is a serious disorder, which has nothing to do with simple emotional ups and downs, as usually heard. The cycles of this pathology can last days, weeks or months, and seriously damage the health, work and personal relationships of the person who suffers.


Bipolar disorder is a serious psychopathology

Due to its severity, this pathology can rarely be treated without medication, since it is necessary to stabilize the patient's mood. The treatment is usually characterized by the administration of Lithium , although other drugs can be used for treatment such as valproate , the carbamazepine wave olanzapine .

In the mania phase, the person is able to get into debt, leave their job, feel very energetic and sleep alone two hours a day . The same person, during the depressive phase, may feel so bad that he can not even get out of bed. There are several types of bipolar disorder that exist, and its milder form is called cyclothymia.

  • You can read more about cyclothymia if you visit our post: "Cyclothymia: the mild version of bipolar disorder"



10 characteristics that you do not know about Bipolar Disorder

That said, there are certain beliefs about this disorder that are not true and that, for you to better understand this pathology, you can find in the following list.

1. Bipolar disorder is not emotional instability

It is possible that sometimes, before a fight with your partner, I told you that "you are a bit bipolar" because you have suddenly changed your mood. Well, you should know that this behavior is quite common, especially in relationships. In these situations, emotions are close to the surface and, since no one is perfect, you can react impulsively.

It can also happen that you are in a period of your life when everything changes very quickly and you do not really know what you want. So it is important not to confuse emotional instability with bipolar disorder , because the latter is a really serious disorder that should be treated as soon as possible.

2. The disorder can be genetic ... or not

When a family member has bipolar disorder, there is more likely that another member of the family will also suffer . However, several studies carried out with identical twins have shown that if one of the two suffers bipolar disorder does not necessarily suffer the other also. Both men and women can suffer from this psychopathology, which is common to be diagnosed around the age of 20.

As almost always happens in cases of mental health disorders, not all causes are environmental, not all causes are genetic, and even if we focus on the genetic component of bipolarity, we can not find a single gene that is responsible for this phenomenon. There are several genes that, working together, increase or decrease the chances of having bipolar disorder. Perhaps, in the future, knowing these genetic elements allows us to offer more effective treatments.

3. Different substances can cause this disorder to develop

The previous point shows the importance of genetic factors as one of the causes of bipolar disorder. But environmental factors, such as the use of psychoactive and pharmacological substances can cause this disorder to develop . Between the use of drugs and drugs that can cause bipolar disorder are:

  • Drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines or marijuana
  • Medications for the treatment of thyroid and corticosteroids

4. People with bipolar disorder are more likely to suffer from other diseases

Problems with the thyroid, headaches, migraines, diabetes, heart problems and obesity are some of the negative consequences associated with bipolar disorder. Diseases that, in addition to the symptoms of mania and depression characteristic of this disorder, can increase the suffering of the patient.

However, it is not clear whether these health problems are the result of the same genetic variations that favor the appearance of bipolarity, or if they are a consequence of the lifestyle of the average person with bipolar disorder. It is very possible that it is due to a combination of both factors.

5. There are different variations of bipolar disorder

There are different types of bipolar disorder. They are the following:

  • Cyclothimia : The less severe version of this disorder. Its symptoms persist for at least two years, and it is characterized by mild phases of depression and hypomania.
  • Type I bipolar disorder : It is characterized by the presence of episodes of mania or mixed. It is not essential that the subject suffer depressive episodes, although approximately 90% of the cases the patient attends both phases.
  • Type II bipolar disorder : This type of bipolar disorder is defined by the existence of depressive episodes and hypomania (less severe).
  • Bipolar disorder not specified : Characterized because there are disorders with bipolar characteristics that do not meet the criteria for any type I or II bipolar disorder, such as: recurrent hypomanic episodes without intercurrent depressive symptoms or a manic or mixed episode superimposed on a delusional disorder, a residual schizophrenia or a psychotic disorder not specified.

There is also a subtype of Cycling bipolar disorder (or cycle) fast, in which people have four or more episodes of major depression, hypomania, mania or mixed states in a period of one year.

6. The states of mania and depression can occur simultaneously

The states of mania and depression can occur simultaneously, which is called "mixed episode" , so it is not necessary to appear separately to make the diagnosis. For example, a person may have episodes of tears and sadness during a manic phase.

7. A person with bipolar disorder can be happy

Bipolar disorder is a serious condition, and the person who suffers it can see their quality of life diminished as a result. But despite this, thanks to the correct treatment, it is possible to live a full and happy life . The administration of mood stabilizers and control of the lifestyle of the individual, can greatly help their general well-being.

8. Bipolar disorder is not dissociative identity disorder (or multiple personality disorder)

These two disorders can be confused by the element of "different personalities". But what characterizes the dissociative identity disorder of personality is that there are two or more identities or different personalities in the person who suffers from this pathology.

You can learn more about this disorder in our article: "Personality Dissociative Identity Disorder (TIDP)"

9. Bipolar disorder can get much worse if it is not treated

Sometimes it may be the individual himself who seeks help, but it may be difficult for him to carry out pharmacological treatment during the manic phase , because he usually feels full of energy. It is usually admitted to the patient when he is in the acute phase to have it under control. If the person with bipolar disorder is not treated, their symptoms will get worse.

10. Famous people who have suffered bipolar disorder

Famous people are not exempt from suffering this disorder. In fact, several celebrities have made public their bipolarity. For example, Catherine Zeta Jones , Demi lovato , Jim Carrey or Macy Gray .

Bibliographic references:

  • American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic criteria from DSM-IV-R. Washington, D.C., American Psychiatric Association.
  • Altshuler, L., L. Kiriakos, et al. (2001). The impact of antidepressant discontinuation versus antidepressant continuation on 1-year risk for relapse of bipolar depression: a retrospective chart review. J Clin Psychiatry 62 (8): 612-6.
  • Mondimore, F. M. (1999). Bipolar disorder: a guide for patients and families. Baltimore, Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Torrey, E. F. and Knable, M. B. (2002). Surviving manic depression: a manual on bipolar disorder for patients, families, and providers. New York, Basic Books.

What’s It Like To Have Bipolar Disorder? (May 2021).


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