By the Social Worker of "Thalpos Kalamata" Areti Glezou
Bipolar disorder or Manic depression is a common mental illness. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV, the key feature of the disease is the presence of one or more manic episodes accompanied by the presence of one or more major depressive episodes.
Both manic episodes and depression periods can last from a few hours or a few days up to several weeks or whole months. The intensity and duration of the symptoms vary from person to person and there is even the case someone does not know that suffering, if symptoms are mild.
According to the DSM-IV, Bipolar disorder is divided into two types: Bipolar disorder I (Bipolar I) and Bipolar disorder II (Bipolar II). The first type is characterized with the presence of one or more manic episodes and one or more major depressive episodes, whereas the second one is characterized with the presence of one or more major depressive episodes accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode.
The symptoms of a manic episode are:
- Mood swings, during which the patient can unconsciously and impulsively laugh for no particular reason, talk to everyone even to strangers, persistently look for people to talk, get upset or angry, even attack if his desires do not become noticeable.
- Bloated self-esteem, expression of excessive self-confidence and lack of self-criticism that can be combined with delusional grandiosity.
- Reduced need for sleep.
- Importunate speech, the patient speaks loudly and quickly. The content of his speech contains jokes, puns, expletives and hostility. Also, he may perform theatrical behavior, dance or sing.
- Attention deficit problems. Usually manifested by rapid changes of topics while talking or activities which are caused by external stimuli.
- Emotional instability. It is possible to pass from anger or sadness to euphoria and vice versa.
- Delusions and hallucinations, involvement in activities with negative consequences, without critical thinking and grandiosity, and excessive unrealistic optimism.
The symptoms of manic depression are:
- Indisposition - feelings of sadness
- Αnhedonia - interest and activities reduction
- Loss or increase of appetite - weight loss or gain
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Sleep disorder
- Negative thoughts - suicide attempts
- Social and professional discount
- Irritability and guilty conscience
- Chronic pain without cause.
Bipolar disorder affects with the same frequency men and women of all nationalities and social groups. According to surveys, Bipolar disorder affects more than 30 million people worldwide, and is among the 20 diseases causing the greatest disability. Up to 2% of European citizens will experience Bipolar disorder some time during their life, and about half of them will develop Bipolar I. The risk of developing Bipolar disorder is higher in young adults - at least half of the cases start before the age of 25.
People who suffer from Bipolar I are at significant risk of developing simultaneously and other disorders, which are called "comorbid". A recent research conducted by World Health Organization, named "Research Initiative on Global Mental Health", found that two thirds of people with Bipolar disorder also suffer from anxiety disorders and more than one-third make use of substances. Despite these serious consequences, the percentage of people with Bipolar disorder that get a treatment is less than 50%.
By taking effective treatment, most people can get control of their emotional swings and associated symptoms. Regarding medication, it is used a variety of effective substances, while treatment regimens may be modified depending on the disease stage. Of particular importance in the treatment of Bipolar disorder are the different types of psychotherapeutic and psychosocial interventions. It has been shown that these methods in combination with medication, help patients to stabilize their mood, reduce disease recurrence and hospitalizations, enhance treatment compliance, support the role of family members and improve patient functionality.
World Bipolar Day is celebrated annually on March 30.
European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness www.eufami.org
World federation for Mental Health www.wfmh.org
Pan-Hellenic Association of Families for mental health www.iatronet.gr/sopsi
University Mental Health Research Institute www.epipsi.gr
Anti-stigma for Mental Disorder Program www.epipsi.gr/Antistigma