This blog post will be dedicated to learning as much information as possible about Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
Bipolar Disorders In Ireland – The Professionals
Consultant psychiatrist at St James’s Hospital in Dublin Dr Paul Scully said it is “essential” to address the stigma surrounding the illness.
“From the public’s view there are various myths and a general lack of understanding surrounding the condition and often this can hinder those who would benefit from support accessing the services they need,” he said.
Dr Scully said that bipolar disorder is frequently misdiagnosed as depression, “so a greater understanding of the condition, both from a medical perspective and from that of parents and families, is vital”.
“Out of sight, out of mind.”
Patterns of depression and mania
You may have episodes of depression more often than episodes of mania, or vice versa.
Between episodes, you may sometimes have periods where you have a “normal” mood.
The patterns aren’t always the same and some people may experience:
- rapid cycling – quick and repeated swings from a high to low without having a “normal” period in between
- mixed state – symptoms of depression and mania together – over activity with a depressed mood
If your mood swings last a long time but aren’t severe, you may have cyclothymia. This is a mild form of bipolar disorder.
If you’re experiencing an elevated mood, or marked irritability, without changes in thinking or sleep, this could be hypomania.
Learning to recognise triggers
You can learn to recognise the warning signs of an episode of mania or depression.
A mental health professional, peer support worker or a close supporter may be able to help you identify your early signs of relapse from your history. Wellness Recovery Action Plans (WRAP) are very useful and your local community mental health team can advise you on how to develop this plan.
This won’t prevent the episode from occurring, but it will allow you to get help in time. This may mean making some changes to your treatment. Your GP or specialist can talk to you about this.
Some people find psychological treatment helpful.
This may include:
- psychoeducation – to find out more about bipolar disorder
- cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- family therapy
- Supportive psychotherapy (counselling)
- Trauma informed psychotherapy
Medication can prevent episodes of mania, hypomania (less severe mania) and depression. These are called mood stabilisers.
On one hand, short-term medication can reduce distressing symptoms during an episode. On the other, longer term preventative (prophylactic) medication will reduce the chances of relapse.
Medication will also treat the main symptoms of depression and mania when they occur.
You may wish to try to gradually stop taking medication. It is always best to do this with professional advice and support. An advanced directive is very useful in this circumstance.
Talking therapies can help you deal with depression and they can also give you advice on how to improve relationships and address any unresolved trauma or emotional distress.
Lifestyle advice can include information about:
- regular exercise
- planning activities you enjoy that give you a sense of achievement
- improving your diet
- getting more sleep
- A family doctor is a good resource and can be the first stop in searching for help.
- For general information on mental health and to find local treatment services, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- The SAMHSA website has a Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator that can search for treatment information by address, city, or ZIP code.
- Visit the NIMH’s Help for Mental Illnesses webpage for more information and resources.
For Immediate Help
If You Are in Crisis: Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential.
If you are thinking about harming yourself or thinking about suicide:
- Tell someone who can help right away
- Call your licensed mental health professional if you are already working with one
- Call your doctor
- Go to the nearest hospital emergency department
If a loved one is considering suicide:
- Do not leave him or her alone
- Try to get your loved one to seek immediate help from a doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911
- Remove access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including medications
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