Bipolar Disorder – Diagnosis and Management


Bipolar Disorder, also known as Bipolar Disease or Manic Depression, is a mental illness marked by extreme shifts in mood, energy, thinking, and behaviour. Moreover, the mood swings associated with Bipolar Disorder often begin erratically, with no apparent cause. Unlike ordinary mood swings, however, the mood changes of Bipolar Disorder are disproportionately intense and can disrupt daily life. Although there is no cure, effective treatment options, fortunately, help manage the symptoms, thereby enabling individuals to live productive lives.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is, therefore, a psychological maladjustment set apart by outrageous shifts in temperament. Specifically, these mood shifts can incorporate periods of elevated mood known as mania, and, conversely, periods of deep depression.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are three primary types of Bipolar Disorder:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder:
    Characterized by at least one manic episode, often followed or preceded by hypomanic or depressive episodes. Both males and females are equally affected.

  2. Bipolar II Disorder:
    Involves at least one major depressive episode lasting at least 14 days, and at least one hypomanic episode lasting at least four days. Bipolar II is more common in females than males.

  3. Cyclothymic Disorder: Cyclothymia involves periods of hypomania and depression that are less severe than those seen in Bipolar I or II, but can still be disruptive. Individuals with Cyclothymia often experience stable moods for no more than a couple of months at a time.

Understanding the Episodes

Bipolar Disorder is characterized by distinct episodes of mania, hypomania, and depression:


During manic episodes, individuals may experience:

  • Abnormally playful, wired, or unsteady mood
  • Increased movement and energy
  • An exaggerated sense of well-being and self-assurance (elation)
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unusual talkativeness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Distractibility
  • Poor decision-making, such as uncontrolled spending or risky sexual behaviour


Hypomania is similar to mania but less severe. While it does not generally cause problems at work or in social settings, it is still noticeable to others.

Depressive Episodes:

Depressive episodes often include at least five of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent depressed mood
  • Anhedonia (loss of interest in activities)
  • Significant weight changes or appetite fluctuations
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • Indecisiveness
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

The exact cause of Bipolar Disorder remains unclear, but several factors are thought to contribute:

  1. Physiological Differences:
    People with Bipolar Disorder often have noticeable brain differences compared to those without the disorder.

  2. Genetics:
    Bipolar Disorder tends to run in families. Those with a close relative, like a sibling or parent, who has the disorder are at higher risk.

  3. Environmental Factors:
    Stress, disrupted sleep patterns, and substance abuse can all increase the risk of developing Bipolar Disorder.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Bipolar Disorder diagnosis involves a thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional, often including physical exams, psychiatric assessments, and mood charting.

Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis Treatment typically includes:

1. Medication:

  • Mood Stabilizers: Lithium, valproate, etc.
  • Antidepressants: Often prescribed for depressive episodes
  • Antipsychotics: Sometimes used to manage manic episodes

2. Psychotherapy:

  • Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT): Helps patients identify and change negative thought patterns.
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT): Focuses on improving daily routines.

3. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT):
Used in severe cases where other treatments have not been effective.

Living with Bipolar Disorder

Managing Bipolar Disorder involves lifelong treatment. Here are some tips for managing daily life with Bipolar Disorder:

  1. Maintain a Routine:
    Regular schedules for eating, sleeping, and activities can help stabilize mood swings.

  2. Educate Yourself:
    Learning about the disorder helps in recognizing early signs of episodes.

  3. Support Network:
    Build a supportive network of family, friends, and healthcare professionals.

  4. Avoid Substance Abuse:
    Alcohol and recreational drugs can exacerbate symptoms and interfere with medications.

  5. Monitor Your Mood:
    Tracking mood changes helps in identifying patterns and triggers.

Impact of Untreated Bipolar Disorder

If left untreated, Bipolar Disorder can significantly impact all aspects of a person’s life:

  1. Substance Abuse:
    People with Bipolar Disorder often self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

  2. Legal or Financial Problems:
    Manic episodes can lead to risky behaviours that result in legal trouble or financial loss.

  3. Unhealthy Relationships:
    Extreme mood swings can strain relationships with family and friends.

  4. Poor Work or School Performance:
    Inability to focus or excessive absences due to mood swings can hinder productivity.


In conclusion, although Bipolar Disorder is a lifelong condition, it can still be managed with appropriate treatment and support. Moreover, early bipolar disorder diagnosis, medication, and therapy can enable individuals to lead fulfilling lives. Ultimately, understanding the disorder is the first step in managing it effectively.


  1. Can Bipolar Disorder be cured?
    No, but it can certainly be managed with the right combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

  2. Is Bipolar Disorder hereditary?
    Yes, indeed, genetics play a role, and having a close relative with the disorder significantly increases your risk.

  3. How do I know if I have Bipolar Disorder?
    Well, the best approach is to consult a healthcare professional if you experience intense mood swings that disrupt daily life.

  4. What triggers manic episodes?
    Triggers vary, but typically can include lack of sleep, stress, substance abuse, or changes in medication.

  5. Can children develop Bipolar Disorder?
    Yes, although it’s less common, children can still develop Bipolar Disorder, often showing different symptoms than adults.