Bipolar disorder, also called manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, is a mental health condition characterized by mood swings.
People who have bipolar affective disorder often experience periods of extreme highs (mania) alternating with periods of extreme lows (depression).
There are three common types of bipolar disorder:
This type of bipolar disorder is characterized by at least one manic episode. Patients with Bipolar I Disorder also suffer from episodes of depression.
People with this type experience both hypomanic and depressive episodes, but never a full-blown manic episode that is typical of Bipolar I Disorder.
This type is characterized by at least two years (or one year in children and teens) of hypomania and depressive symptoms periods.
ICD-10 is an internationally used diagnostic tool created by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, and it includes a chapter on mental disorders. General practitioners may use ICD-10 as a screening tool to assess bipolar disorder in symptomatic patients.
DSM-5 is the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is the standard classification of mental disorders used by clinicians, researchers, and public health officials in the United States. A patient’s symptoms must fit the criteria outlined in the DSM-5 to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to the criteria, a person must experience at least one episode of mania or hypomania.
Although the exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, research suggests that it is a combination of factors:
Bipolar disorder is common in people who have a member in the family who suffers from the same condition.
Imbalances of neurotransmitters in the brain, including noradrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine, are also believed to be one cause of bipolar disorder.1
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have found that disruptions to a specific protein called Akt can cause the brain changes that are typical of bipolar disorder.3
This finding has significant implications for the future of research into bipolar disorder, as it means that researchers can search for drugs to target this protein and correct its disruption.
Medications are part of bipolar disorder treatment. Patients with bipolar disorder are often prescribed mood stabilizers such as lithium. Antipsychotic medications are also used to help control symptoms such as delusions, hallucinations, and agitation. In some cases, a patient with bipolar disorder may also take antidepressants or other types of medication for anxiety disorders.
Family therapy is a promising new option for adults or children with bipolar disorder and their caregivers. The therapy consists primarily of information sessions about how the illness works, communication improvement training, and problem-solving skills training. It is usually given together with pharmacotherapy after an illness episode.5
Ecopsychology is an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinarity field that focuses on studying the emotional bond between humans and the earth. It takes a holistic stance on the emotional connection between humans and considers its role in human behavior, health, culture, spirituality, and creativity.