What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

Moodiness, lack of energy, and problems thinking clearly can all be attributed to something as obvious as working several long days at the office, or a stressful day on a school field trip. But if high and low moods happen regularly and affect your daily life, you may have bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a chronic or episodic (which means occurring occasionally and at irregular intervals) mental disorder. It can cause unusual, often extreme and fluctuating changes in mood, energy, activity, and concentration or focus. Bipolar disorder sometimes is called manic-depressive disorder or manic depression, which are older terms.”

Everyone goes through normal ups and downs, but bipolar disorder is different. The range of mood and energy changes can be intense, making thinking clearly very difficult.

What Are The Symptoms?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder, though responsive to ketamine treatment and other therapy, are diverse. They fall into two categories: manic episodes and depressive episodes. Symptoms can be summarized this way:

Manic episodes

  • Feeling very up, great, ecstatic, or enormously touchy or irritable 
  • Feeling wired, fidgety, or more energetic than normal
  • Racing thoughts
  • Less need for sleep
  • Talking quickly about a range of various topics (“flight of ideas”)
  • Excessive desire for drinking, food, companionship, or other enjoyable activities
  • Believing you’re capable of many things at once without tiring

Depressive episodes

  • Feeling very sad, low, or anxious
  • Feeling restless or slowed down 
  • Problems thinking or making decisions
  • Difficulty falling asleep, waking up too soon, or sleeping too much
  • Talking very deliberately, believing you have nothing worthwhile to say, or trouble remembering
  • Feeling worthless or hopeless, or thinking about suicide or death 

More information on bipolar disorder symptoms is available online.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

The cause of bipolar disorder and many other mental health conditions is unknown, and likely different for every person. However, research indicates there is no single trigger. Instead, a combination of influences may result in bipolar disorder. If you are diagnosed with the condition, you may at that time have a better understanding of the cause, but here are some good possibilities.

  • Genetics. The likelihood of getting bipolar disorder is boosted if your parents or siblings have the condition. But the contribution of genetics is not rock-solid: A child whose family has a history of bipolar disorder may never get it, even if every blood relative suffers from it. Studies of identical twins have shown that, even if one twin gets the disorder, the other may never be afflicted.
  • Stress. A traumatic event such as the death of a family, an ailment, a troublesome relationship, financial problems or divorce, can produce a depressive or manic episode. Therefore, a person’s coping with stress may also act as a contributor to the growth of the illness.
  • Brain structure and related function. Brain scans aren’t precise enough to diagnose bipolar disorder, but researchers have found minute variations in the average size or creation of some brain structures in people suffering from bipolar disorder.

If you suffer from bipolar disorder and recognize its symptoms, the best thing to do is enlist the help of a medical professional who specializes in mental illness. Experts are better at diagnosing mental illness and uncovering possible causes than patients.

Diagnosing Bipolar

To diagnose bipolar disorder, a doctor or mental healthcare specialist may:

  • Carry out a full physical examination
  • Order medical tests to rule out other ailments
  • Refer you for an assessment by a psychiatrist
  • A psychiatrist or other health professional diagnoses the disorder based on symptoms, duration, and your life experiences

Can You Tell If You’re Bipolar?

Everyone believes they know themselves better than anyone else, particularly regarding not feeling well physically. But there’s a difference in knowing if you have a mental illness compared to a physical medical condition. Medical conditions often have an obvious cause, like cancer or a broken leg. But mental illness is more difficult to diagnose because symptoms of different conditions overlap and blend together. The other big problem? It’s hard to admit you suffer from a mental illness.

Treatment Options

The best treatment is often recommended or provided by a medical professional specializing in mental illness. If you’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it’s not unexpected to be referred to in-patient or out-patient individual or group therapy, prescription medicine, or ketamine treatment, with each therapy tailored to your personal needs.

Final Thoughts

Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that affects about three percent of adults in the U.S. Its symptoms can have serious consequences if left untreated, so any suspicions you or a loved one suffer from it should be addressed immediately. Likely, it’s not a condition that responds to self-diagnosis.

Call us today to learn more about innovative new treatments for bipolar disorder offered at our clinic!

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