How you’re feeling right now. We use the word mood a lot.
It’s often paired with adjectives like “good” or “bad” to indicate whether you’re feeling good or bad about yourself.
Naturally, it has a significant impact on my thoughts and behaviors.
This mood is a slightly different concept from my personality.
This mood is a bit different from my personality, because personality describes the “usual” aspects of a person, while mood describes how a person feels about a particular event or situation, rather than their usual aspects.
But what if a person’s mood is so far removed from who they normally are that it causes them to go in a completely different direction – in other words, they regularly go back and forth between two very different moods, like riding a roller coaster?
It’s not only confusing for the person watching, but it’s also very confusing for the person themselves.
If you met someone a year ago and they were so fun and energetic, but today they talk and act like they’re severely depressed, you’d have a hard time even getting a sense of their personality.
You would be confused.
This situation or disorder is called bipolar disorder or bipolar mood disorder, and it has been referred to by various names in the past, including manic depression and bipolar illness.
It is a condition in which a person experiences periodic episodes of high mood and excitement and periodic episodes of low mood and depression, often both. Manic episodes are characterized by excessive euphoria or optimism, and hyperactivity due to overly elevated self-esteem.
During this period, the person temporarily loses their sense of reality, resulting in narcissistic thoughts and behaviors, and even delusional behavior.
The person talks nonstop and rapidly, often on so many different topics that it can be confusing to the listener, and their physical activity level increases dramatically, sometimes not sleeping for days.
This sudden increase in activity, coupled with a lack of cognitive judgment, can lead to overspending, impulsive gambling, and disorderly behavior that the individual may later regret.
Of course, this sudden increase in energy can sometimes lead to creative ideas, but this is very rare.
However, when a person enters the depressive phase, they enter a state that is clinically indistinguishable from that of a typical depressed person.
In other words, a person can be in a manic phase for a period of time and then enter the exact opposite state.
These rapid changes often lead to suspicions that a person with bipolar disorder may be suffering from schizophrenia.
Causes of bipolar disorder
So, what are the causes of bipolar disorder?
First of all, we can think of genetic factors.
In general, identical twins have a very high risk (about 80%) of having bipolar disorder, while fraternal twins have a relatively weak risk (about 16%).
In addition, generalized depression (called unipolar depression because it is depression without mania) is more frequent in close relatives of people with manic aspects of bipolar disorder, leading researchers to speculate that the genetic aspect of depression may add to the manic symptoms within a network of relatives, but the causal mechanisms are not yet clear.
More recently, neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine have been observed to be dysfunctional in the brains of people with bipolar disorder, and their involvement has been intensively studied, and medications such as lithium have been increasingly identified to improve symptoms.
In addition, cognitive and environmental factors have also been shown to play an important role.
For example, when people with bipolar disorder think about or imagine negative things, they experience them as much more real than people without the disorder.
Therefore, the thought/imagination itself is more likely to result in greater behavioral change.
Patients who live with critical or aggressive family members are also more likely to relapse than those who do not, and while there is no clear cause-and-effect relationship, frontline treatment providers say that “blaming the patient” is often the worst thing that can happen.
Approaches to bipolar disorder
In general, women are more likely to suffer from generalized depression than men, while bipolar disorder has a similar prevalence rate of around 1% in both sexes.
Therefore, experts believe that gender differences do not have much explanatory power, and it is a very difficult mental disorder to treat because it is prone to relapse.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that despite having a clear manic phase, it’s not uncommon for patients to be initially diagnosed as simply depressed and to be treated incorrectly (e.g., with intensive use of antidepressants), causing their symptoms to worsen.
In addition, the milder symptoms of the manic phase can sometimes delay the disorder’s detection, as people around the person are drawn to their exuberance and behavior.
In fact, a non-negligible percentage of people who say they have depression mistake their cycle for “depressed-exuberant-depressed-exuberant”.
This is because the manic phase can also be a manic phase.
Experts say that bipolar disorder is unlikely to be cured or significantly improved.
Everyday factors, such as maintaining a regular routine, eliminating stressful situations, and avoiding substances such as alcohol, have been shown to significantly help improve symptoms and increase or maintain the effectiveness of treatment.
In addition, it is often very effective to change extreme perfectionism or negative thinking to positive and flexible thinking through processes such as counseling, so it is most important to actively deal with similar symptoms with the help of a professional.