Dr. Nikhil Kanase

A Look into Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

We all have mood swings from time to time, and that is normal. But what happens when those moods start taking over your life to the point where you lose control of yourself?

That is what happens when you have bipolar disorder.

Bipolar disorder or maniac depression is a mental health condition caused by periods of mood swings including,

  • Extremely elevated mood (Mania)
  • Extremely Low mood (Depression)

Bipolar disorder is a common psychological problem and can affect both children and adults.

Bipolar Disorder Types

Bipolar I Disorder: This is the most severe form, characterized by manic episodes that last at least 7 days or require hospitalization, and depressive episodes that last at least 2 weeks.

Bipolar II Disorder: This is characterized by hypomanic episodes that last at least 4 days and depressive episodes that last at least 2 weeks. Hypomania is less severe than full-blown mania, but can still cause significant impairment in social, occupational, or other areas of functioning.

Cyclothymic Disorder: This is a milder form of bipolar disorder characterized by episodes of hypomania and mild depression that last for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). The symptoms are not severe enough to meet the criteria for bipolar I or II disorder.

Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders: These are other types of bipolar disorder that do not fit the criteria for the above categories, but still involve episodes of mood swings.

Bipolar Disorder Symptoms

Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder characterized by episodes of mood swings that range from depressive lows to manic highs. It can occur at any age, typically in the teenage years or early 20s. The symptoms of bipolar disorder differ between people and over time.

Manic EpisodesDepressive Episodes
Feeling over happy for long periods of timeSignificant weight changes
Decreased need for sleepLimited or excessive sleep
More talkative than usualFeelings of worthlessness or inappropriate guilt
Racing thoughtsDifficulty in thinking or making decisions
Engaging in risky behaviorSuicidal thoughts
High self-esteemFatigue and problems with memory

These periods of abnormal mood occur every day or last for a few days or even a few weeks. The risk of self-harm and suicidal thoughts is common during episodes of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Causes

There is no single cause, and many factors act together to produce the illness, like,

  • Genetic factors: If your family members have bipolar disorder, you have more chances of developing it
  • Biological traits: Imbalances in neurotransmitters or hormones of the brain may cause the disease
  • Environmental factors:  Abuse, mental stress, or traumatic events may trigger the episodes

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

For an accurate diagnosis, it is essential to rule out other medical conditions or disorders.

Your doctor may

  • Conduct physical examination
  • Blood and Urine Tests
  • Ask about your moods and behaviors for a psychological evaluation

If there is no medical cause, then your doctor will refer you to a psychiatrist who will assess you by,

  • Psychiatric assessment – The doctor may ask questions to evaluate the symptoms and mental state
  • Mood Charting – To keep a daily record of your moods and sleep patterns

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Treatment aims to reduce the severity and episodes of depression and mania to allow for a normal life.

Treatment options include:

  • Medications – Mood stabilizers helps with stabilizing moods
  • Psychological treatment – talking therapies to help deal with depression, manage stress, and create a consistent daily routine
  • Electroconvulsive therapy- Electric currents are passed through the brain to help with mania and depression

Get help right away if you are thinking of hurting or killing yourself!

Home Therapies for Bipolar Disorder

Some lifestyle changes can lessen the intensity of moods and frequency of cycling, like,

  • Do not skip psychotherapy sessions.
  • Continue bipolar disorder medications even if you are feeling well.
  • Empower yourself by learning about your condition.
  • Pay attention to the warning signs. Find out what triggers your condition.
  • Abstain from alcohol and commonly misused drugs.
  • Avoid unhealthy relationships.
  • Indulge yourself in 30 minutes of exercise a day.
  • Sleep for 7 to 9 hours per night.
  • Eat healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.

Myths and Facts on Bipolar Disorder

Myth: People who have bipolar disorder cannot work.

Fact: Proper medical treatment and good support enables most people (more than 75%) with bipolar to work and be successful.

Myth: Children do not get bipolar disorder.

Fact: Bipolar disorder can occur in children as young as age six. It is more likely to affect children whose parents have bipolar disorder.


What is Hypomania?

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania that is commonly experienced by people with bipolar disorder. It is a state of elevated or irritable mood, increased energy, and decreased need for sleep. Hypomania is a characteristic feature of bipolar II disorder, which is a subtype of bipolar disorder.

During hypomania, individuals may feel extremely productive, creative, and confident, and may engage in impulsive behaviors such as overspending, substance abuse, or risky sexual behaviors. They may also experience racing thoughts, increased talkativeness, distractibility, and decreased judgment.


Bipolar disorder is a complex mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be challenging to manage, but with proper diagnosis, treatment, and support, individuals with bipolar disorder can live fulfilling and productive lives. It is important to seek help if you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, and to work closely with a healthcare provider to develop an effective treatment plan. With education, awareness, and continued research, we can continue to improve the lives of those affected by this condition.