Bipolar Affective Disorder
A diagnosis of a bipolar affective disorder usually means that you have a mood disorder, which you may feel you have little control over. Some people will be able to manage their lives day-to-day with brief periods of disruption which can make it difficult to manage routines, relationships, education and work. For some people the periods of disruption can be much longer and they will require help to stabilise their lives. It is well researched that stress can have a big impact on bipolar affective disorder; so keeping stress levels well-managed is important to help maintain stability and avoid symptom relapse.
At Schoen Clinic, we can help you if you have a diagnosed bipolar affective disorder, (also frequently shortened to ‘bipolar’) at the point where it interferes with your day-to-day life. Our specialist day programme is designed to support your treatment.
What is bipolar affective disorder?
Bipolar affective disorders are characterised by fluctuations between elated mood (mania) and depressed mood. The fluctuation between these moods can differ from person-to-person.
Fluctuations can happen after a few days, weeks, months or years and sometimes occur several times a day. Frequent changes in mood are called rapid cycling. These changes can also include periods of mood stability where a person feels unaffected by depression or mania.
It is estimated that between 1-3% of the population experiences a bipolar affective disorder. However, it can take many years until a person receives an accurate diagnosis. It is usually during periods of depression when people seek help.
Signs of bipolar affective disorder: mania
The symptoms of bipolar affective disorder can vary from person-to-person and dependent on the emotional state that you are currently experiencing. These can include:
- Feeling happy or excited, even if things are not going well for you
- Feeling better about yourself than you would usually
- Feeling irritable
- Issues with sleep, sleeplessness
- Thinking you can do much more than you realistically can
- Having lots of new, exciting ideas
- Talking very quickly
- Experiencing racing thoughts and easily distracted with a struggle to focus on one topic
- Hearing voices
- Making unusual or big decisions without much thought
- Doing things you normally wouldn’t, which can cause you problems (i.e. spending lots of money, gambling, taking risky financial or business decisions, drugs or alcohol misuse)
Signs of bipolar affective disorder: hypomania
The symptoms of Hypomania are similar to those experienced in Mania but milder.
Signs of bipolar affective disorder: depression
- Intense low mood
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and guilt
- Lack of enjoyment in previously pleasurable activities
- Lack of motivation
- Negative views of self, future and world
- Difficulties in decision making, concentration and memory
- Feeling restless or irritable
- Withdrawal and social isolation, being less interested in activities previously enjoyed
- Decreased standard of personal hygiene
- Changes to sleeping pattern
- Changes in appetite
- Thoughts about suicide or attempts to end your life
Causes of bipolar affective disorder
There are a number of influential genetic, environmental and life factors leading to the development of a bipolar affective disorder, but no single cause has been identified.