Although experiences vary from person to person, bipolar disorder can cause extreme upheaval in an individual’s life, affecting both personal and professional relationships.
About 2.8% of adults in the United States have bipolar disorder, and about 4.4% of American adults will have it at some point in their lives.
There are many factors that contribute to bipolar disorder, but genetic factors are the most common.
People are not born with bipolar disorder, but genetics play an important role in its development. People with bipolar disorder may also have a family member with the disease.
In an older journal article, researchers have found a strong familial component in bipolar disorder. A child with a parent or sibling with bipolar disorder has a 5-10% chance of developing the disease on their own. A person who has an identical twin with bipolar disorder has up to a 70% chance of developing the disease on their own.
On the other hand, the risk of developing bipolar disorder in people with no family history is incredibly low – between 0.5% and 1.5%.
Bipolar disorder is a complex disease and scientists do not fully understand the role genes play. A combination of many different genes likely increases a person’s chances of developing this disease.
Genetics are not the only factor that can lead to the development of bipolar disorder. Genes work in tandem with environmental conditions such as stress and lifestyle.
In one Study report 2019, researchers looked at the effects of sleep deprivation on people with bipolar disorder. They found that a lack of sleep can trigger manic episodes. Maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle is therefore a crucial step in stabilizing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Excessive use of substances such as alcohol and drugs can also trigger symptoms of bipolar disorder, such as mania and depression. About 56% of people with bipolar disorder have a history of substance abuse.
Sometimes a diagnosis of bipolar disorder follows an extremely stressful or traumatic event. Stress does not cause bipolar disorder, but it can trigger episodes of mood swings in some individuals.
Some of the more common life stressors that can trigger symptoms include:
change jobs or lose a job
experience a death in the family
go to the University
go through a divorce
There are many treatment options that can help improve well-being by managing symptoms.
Medication is the most common form of treatment. Doctors often prescribe mood stabilizers to prevent depressive and manic episodes.
Psychotherapy is another treatment protocol. It helps people identify and change their problematic emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Mental health professionals can help a person manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder.
However, it is important to note that people may have difficulty initiating or benefiting from psychotherapy during a manic episode.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is another widely used therapy technique that helps individuals change their thought patterns and behaviors.
CBT sessions can include strategies like learning not to avoid fears, preparing for problematic interactions with others through role play, and learning techniques for staying calm.
CBT can help people by teaching them to:
clearly identify the problems
challenge incorrect assumptions
distinguish between irrational thoughts and facts
understand how past experiences affect feelings and beliefs
stop fearing the worst
focus on current reality rather than how you think it should be
develop more positive thought patterns
Brain stimulation procedures, such as electroconvulsive transcranial magnetic stimulation, can help treat severe depressive and manic episodes when drugs and talk therapy are not effective.
People with bipolar disorder may not realize they have it, even if their manic or depressive behavior is disrupting their lives.
Once a doctor diagnoses the condition, people should see them regularly to assess the effectiveness of their treatment.
People with bipolar disorder should call 911 or a local emergency number if they are having thoughts of suicide or self-harming. A person can also call the National lifeline for suicide prevention 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.
Although there is a strong genetic component to bipolar disorder, it is not the only factor.
Living with bipolar disorder can be difficult. However, with certain lifestyle changes, medications, and talk therapy, it is possible to manage symptoms and lead full, happy, and productive lives.