Bipolar disorder is a common, yet intricate mental illness. Formerly known as manic depression, is a complex and chronic mental illness that affects approximately 2.8% of adults in the United States. It is characterized by significant mood swings, ranging from manic or hypomanic episodes to depressive episodes, with periods of normal mood in between. These mood swings can be severe and can impact an individual’s ability to function in their personal and professional lives. As it is a common mental illness, it is important to understand the symptoms and facts about bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania or hypomania and depressive episodes. Manic or hypomanic episodes are characterized by an elevated or irritable mood, increased energy, decreased need for sleep, grandiosity, racing thoughts, and impulsive behavior. Depressive episodes are characterized by a depressed or sad mood, loss of interest in activities, fatigue, changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, and suicidal ideation.
Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when an individual experiences at least one manic episode, which can last for at least one week, or requires hospitalization. Bipolar II disorder is diagnosed when an individual experiences at least one hypomanic episode and at least one depressive episode. Cyclothymic disorder is diagnosed when an individual experiences numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms for at least two years.
Causes of Bipolar Disorder
The exact causes of bipolar disorder are unknown, but research suggests that genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors may play a role. Studies have found that bipolar disorder is more common in individuals who have a first-degree relative with the illness. Additionally, stressful life events, such as the loss of a loved one, can trigger the onset of bipolar disorder.
Neuroimaging studies have found structural and functional differences in the brains of individuals with bipolar disorder, particularly in the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. These differences may contribute to the emotional dysregulation seen in bipolar disorder.
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
There are a variety of treatment options available for bipolar disorder. Treatment typically involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy, over an extended period of time.
Some of these include: Mood stabilizers, such as lithium and valproic acid, they are the primary medications used to treat bipolar disorder. These medications help regulate mood and prevent manic or depressive episodes. Antipsychotic medications, such as risperidone and olanzapine, are also used to treat manic or mixed episodes.
Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), can be helpful in managing symptoms of bipolar disorder. CBT can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors, while IPSRT can help individuals establish and maintain a regular routine.
In addition to medication and psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction techniques, can also be helpful.
Alternative Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
While medication and psychotherapy are the most commonly used treatments for bipolar disorder, some individuals may seek alternative treatments, such as ketamine infusion therapy. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that has been found to have rapid antidepressant effects in individuals with bipolar disorder and other mood disorders.
Ketamine infusion therapy involves receiving a low dose of ketamine intravenously over a period of several hours, typically in a clinic or hospital setting. While research on the use of ketamine infusion therapy for bipolar disorder is still in its early stages, some studies have found promising results in reducing symptoms of depression and suicidal ideation.
It is important for individuals with bipolar disorder to discuss all treatment options with their healthcare provider and to make informed decisions about their care.
At Invictus Clinic, we understand the challenges that come with managing bipolar disorder. If you or a loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our team to discuss your available treatment options, and whether ketamine infusion therapy may be a helpful addition to your treatment plan. Contact us today to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment.