Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Its Causes – A Guide for Patients

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Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental health condition that affects the brain and causes extreme mood swings. This disorder can significantly impact an individual’s ability to function in daily life. It can lead to problems at work, in relationships and may even increase the risk of suicide. If you or a loved one are struggling with bipolar disorder, it’s essential to understand the condition’s causes and symptoms. This blog post provides the necessary information to help you recognize and manage bipolar disorder.

Understanding the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Extreme changes in mood, energy, and behavior characterize bipolar disorder. An individual will experience episodes of mania, which are excessive energy, excitement, irritability, periods of depression, permanent sadness, and hopelessness. You may experience one or both of these episodes. In some cases, an individual may have a mixed episode, including symptoms of mania and depression. It’s essential to recognize these symptoms to manage this disorder.

1. Mania

One of the primary symptoms of bipolar disorder is mania, characterized by an elevated mood and increased energy levels. During a manic episode, people may feel excessively happy or irritable. They may also experience racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, and increased risky behavior.

2. Depression

Bipolar disorder is also characterized by episodes of depression, which are periods of low mood and decreased energy levels. People with bipolar disorder may lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, have difficulty concentrating, and feel hopeless or helpless.

3. Mixed Episodes

Mixed episodes are another symptom of bipolar disorder and occur when a person experiences both manic and depressive symptoms simultaneously. During a mixed episode, a person may feel agitated and depressed, have difficulty sleeping, and engage in risky behavior.

4. Psychotic Symptoms

Bipolar disorder can also cause psychotic symptoms characterized by hallucinations or delusions. People with bipolar disorder may see or hear things that are not there or believe things that are not true. Psychotic symptoms can be extremely distressing and make it difficult for people to function in their everyday lives.

5. Rapid cycling

Rapid cycling is a symptom of bipolar disorder that refers to frequent mood swings. People with rapid cycling may experience several episodes of mania or depression within a short period of time (e.g., within a few months). Rapid cycling can be extremely disruptive to a person’s life, making it difficult to maintain relationships or hold down a job.

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Causes of Bipolar Disorder

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown, but several risk factors can increase your likelihood of experiencing this condition. Genetics plays a significant role in bipolar disorder. If you have a family history of bipolar disorder, you are more likely to develop this condition. Trauma or stressful events like the abuse or loss of a loved one affect your mood, and the use of drugs and alcohol, corticosteroids, and antidepressant medication can also be a hindrance. These factors interact with the brain’s chemistry to cause mood swings.

1. Genetic Factors

Bipolar disorder is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Numerous studies have shown that the disorder runs in families and that people with a first-degree relative (such as a parent or sibling) with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop the condition themselves. Additionally, identical twins are more likely to have bipolar disorder than fraternal twins. These findings suggest that genes play a role in the development of bipolar disorder.

2. Brain Structure and Function

Brain imaging studies have also shown differences in the brains of people with bipolar disorder compared to those without the condition. People with bipolar disorder tend to have changes in the structure and function of the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex – brain regions involved in emotion regulation and decision-making. Additionally, people with bipolar disorder often have an imbalance of neurotransmitters, chemicals that help transmit signals between nerve cells in the brain.

3. Stressful Life Events

Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one or divorce, can trigger episodes of mania or depression in people with bipolar disorder. Additionally, people who experience trauma during childhood (such as abuse or neglect) are more likely to develop bipolar disorder than those who do not.

4. Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is also a risk factor for bipolar disorder. People who abuse drugs or alcohol are more likely to experience episodes of mania or depression than those who do not. Additionally, people with bipolar disorder who abuse substances are more likely to experience severe symptoms and have difficulty responding to treatment.

5. Sleep Problems

Sleep problems are common in people with bipolar disorder and can contribute to the development of manic or depressive episodes. People with bipolar disorder often have difficulty sleeping, leading to fatigue and irritability. Additionally, sleep deprivation has been shown to trigger manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder.

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Managing Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is not curable, but it’s manageable. The most effective management method for bipolar disorder is a combination of medication and therapy. Medications like mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants can help manage symptoms. Therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), can help individuals manage triggers and learn coping skills. You can reduce the intensity of episodes by changing your lifestyle by being physically active, eating healthily, involving in social activities.

1. Bipolar disorder is a mental illness characterized by extreme mood swings.

2. People with bipolar disorder often experience periods of mania, during which they feel excessively happy or irritable, and periods of depression, during which they overthink, are sad or hopeless.

3. Bipolar disorder can be challenging to manage, but there are a few things that you can do to help control your symptoms.

4. First, it is important to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Getting enough sleep can help to stabilize your mood and energy levels.

5. Second, you should avoid stressful situations as much as possible. Stress can trigger manic or depressive episodes.

6. Third, you should eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Eating nutritious foods and regular exercise can help improve your overall mood and well-being.

7. Finally, it is important to seek professional help if you are struggling to manage your bipolar disorder. A therapist or counselor can provide the support and guidance you need to manage your condition effectively.

Seeking Help

If you suspect you or someone you know is struggling with bipolar disorder, it’s essential to seek help. Mental health professionals like psychologists and psychiatrists can help diagnose and manage this condition. Support groups can also be an excellent resource for individuals with bipolar disorder.


Bipolar disorder is a challenging mental health condition that can significantly impact an individual’s life. Recognizing symptoms and seeking the right treatment can help manage this condition and improve quality of life. If you or a loved one is experiencing bipolar disorder, don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional or support group. With the right support and management, it’s possible to live a happy, fulfilling life with bipolar disorder.

Contact us today at 816.708.0508 or schedule your appointment online.

story of bipolar disorderI was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when I was 21. It felt like my life had been turned upside down, and I struggled to cope. My moods were all over the place; one day I’d be happy and full of energy, then suddenly become depressed the next day. It was an exhausting rollercoaster ride that left me feeling helpless and alone.

My family suggested seeing a psychiatrist for help, so I agreed. At first it seemed strange talking to someone about my mental health issues but soon enough it began to feel more natural as time went on. We talked through my experiences in detail and worked together to create coping strategies whenever I felt overwhelmed or out of control.

We explored different medications that could help to stabilize my moods until eventually we found something that worked for me – this made a huge difference in how well I managed the highs and lows of living with bipolar disorder! The psychiatrist also taught me how important self-care is, such as getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly and connecting with friends & family members who can provide support during difficult times.

The journey wasn’t always easy but thanks to the guidance from my psychiatrist combined with lots of hard work on my part – today I manage my symptoms much better than before! Knowing what triggers may cause manic episodes has helped me take steps towards avoiding them altogether which has given me back control over areas of life where once there were none!

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