Mania and Bipolar disorder go hand in hand. The extreme mood swings between mania and depression that characterize bipolar disorder can increase your loved one’s risk of engaging in dangerous behavior or attempting suicide. While this disorder has no cure, it can be managed with a combination of medication, therapy and lifestyle changes.
Convincing your loved one that they need treatment isn’t always easy, but interventions can help. Taking the time to learn more about this disorder can also help you understand what your loved one is going through.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a psychological disorder that is associated with severe changes in mood. Your loved one might go from having a lot of energy and feeling euphoric to having very low energy levels and feeling hopeless.
These mood swings are commonly referred to as mania and depression. They can happen frequently in more severe cases or just a couple of times per year in milder cases. The underlying cause isn’t known, although researchers believe it could be associated with chemical imbalances in the brain or hereditary traits.
When to Seek Help
It’s important to recognize the signs of manic and depressive episodes, so you can work on getting your loved one to seek treatment as soon as possible. Without proper care, those with this disorder can harm themselves or others by engaging in risky behavior. They can also become suicidal.
The recent death of 17-year-old Kristiana Coignard, who suffered from bipolar disorder, highlights this risk. Coignard walked into a police station in East Texas and claimed to have a gun on her. After getting into a physical altercation with police officers, she was fatally shot. The teen’s family stated that she had struggled with bipolar disorder from a young age and had attempted suicide twice in the past.
Coignard’s case isn’t an isolated one. In fact, an estimated 25 to 50 percent of people with bipolar disorder will have one or more suicide attempts during their lifetime, according to a study published in Psychiatria Danubina. If your loved one displays signs of mania or depression, encouraging them to get help is crucial.
Common Signs of Manic or Depressive Episodes
Common signs of manic episodes include:
- Feelings of euphoria or feeling invincible
- Severe rage or irritability
- Engaging in reckless behavior, such as spending large sums of money or driving at dangerous speeds
- Rapid speech
- Less sleep
Common signs of depressive episodes include:
- Feelings of despair or hopelessness
- Losing interest in activities
- Low energy, poor sleep and/or appetite changes
- Trouble concentrating
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can be managed through medical treatment, such as mood stabilizing medications, antipsychotic medications or antidepressants, although medication alone usually isn’t effective enough.
Your loved one can also manage their condition through non-medical forms of treatment, such as:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy: This teaches your loved one to recognize negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with positive ones.
- Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy: IPSRT helps your loved one follow certain rhythms in their day-to-day life in order to establish a stable routine and adopt healthy lifestyle changes.
- Psychoeducation: This provides education on bipolar disorder, so you and your loved one can understand this condition better.
If your loved one won’t seek help on their own, don’t lose hope. Family interventions can be very effective at convincing those with bipolar disorder that they need help.
A review of psychosocial interventions, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and family interventions, published in the Journal of Affective Disorders showed that these non-medical forms of treatment can improve the outcomes of those with bipolar disorder. Don’t hesitate to reach out to professional interventionists to help your loved one get the treatment they need.