People in mania can’t keep a lid on things, it’s like a massive emotional and cognitive dam has burst and everything is rushing forward without any sort of restraint, control or judgement. Their mind is a torrent of ideas, often multiple streams raging with ideas, speed and energy.
Talking a lot
This is a function and externalization of the previous point. The racing thoughts often produce intense and rapid-fire speech. The person with rapid speech is often hard to calm down. They exhibit what is called ‘pressured speech’ which is rapid and frenzied speech as if motivated by an urgency not apparent to the listener *
Very high self esteem (false beliefs about self or abilities)
Grandiose thoughts are common in mania, the person in mania believing they are on a special mission and executing a special and unique purpose in the world. These thoughts can sometimes feed into delusions and hallucinations.
Very involved in activities
A result of the coupling of a greater sense of importance with increased energy, the person can throw themselves zealously into activities and causes. These commitments can rarely be sustained or carried through and often end abruptly when mania ceases or depressive episodes return and can leave the sufferer again with regret and remorse.
Very upset (agitated or irritated)
Low tolerance towards others and a general impulsive drive often cause irritable behaviour in social situations. Tantrums, storming off abruptly and strange social interactions happen in mania.
The other side – the depressive episode.
Signs of the depressive episode strongly overlap with the ones we mentioned in our article on major depression. When the mood swings the depression can be very harsh, despair and extreme sadness can kick in often with suicidal ideation. Rumination over the behaviour exhibited in the manic phase can obviously further compound these feelings. Read our article on major depression for a more in-depth analysis of these symptoms. Here is a quick summary of the symptoms:
- Daily low mood or sadness
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Eating problems
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty
- Loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Loss of self-esteem
- Thoughts of death and suicide
- Trouble getting to sleep or sleeping too much
- Pulling away from friends or activities that were once enjoyed *
No exact cause is known. The genetic influence is agreed upon as substantial. It seems likely that bipolar is caused by a combination between genetics, family upbringing and environmental stressors. Bipolar is clearly seen reoccurring along genetic lines.
It is agreed. If you are genetically predisposed to bipolar you can have an idyllic life and still get sick. If you have a very weak predisposition to bipolar you need a lot of stressors in your life for this condition to kick in. *
Brain chemistry plays a part too. That is why mood stablising drugs are so effective at treating bipolar.
The problem of bipolar
We see again and again in our stories that bipolar often lasts a long time before a proper diagnosis is given. This happens for so many reasons. One is that people enjoy mania and hypomania and very rarely would spontaneously seek mainstream treatment during this period. People generally only seek medical treatment when things are bad and they need help.
So there is a tendency for people with bipolar to be attracted and enticed by the manic or hypomanic state. Sometimes in an effort to self manage, people with bipolar often abuse medications and substances, especially if they intentionally avoid mood stabilising and other psychiatric medications. This is really dangerous and not at all encouraged.
Despite greater public awareness of the condition the time lag between the experience and the diagnosis remains.
A possible reason for this is the difficulty and complexity around getting an accurate diagnosis. Mania or hypomania needs to be diagnosed with bipolar and for many, especially early on, depressive episodes are the most common, with mania or hypomania occurring less often. In these cases major depression can be confused with bipolar, and this can persist for years until clear cyclical patterns are recognised and ascertained.
How people beat bipolar
Bipolar is a lifelong condition and needs long-term consistent treatment. It’s important this continues even when people feel better or in control of their life.
- Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is the imperative and fundamental first step
- Medication is shown to be very effective, often a mood stabilising drug, sometimes in combination with an anti-depressant. Sometimes other medications such as antipsychotics are used. Medication alone will not beat bipolar; it needs to be in combination with other therapies. It’s useful to work with an experienced psychiatrist and develop a long-term relationship with them. They will also learn about the cyclical nature of your unique condition as they work over a long period.
- Psychotherapy can be very useful. Often people who experience bipolar have troubled family issues. Issues need to be talked about and worked through, especially if there are some unconscious patterns of trauma embedded within the condition.
- Mood monitoring: journaling and becoming acquainted with cycles and what situations can trigger episodes is important. Self-education and self-management is a crucial part of the successfully managing the condition.
- Psychoeducation. Learning privately and also with professional and support networks about how to manage the condition, especially how to predict and cope with episodes, is crucial.
- Mutual support groups, discussing and learning effective management techniques and building friendships in these groups. Like all mental health conditions bipolar can be very isolating. Making friends who understand the experience is really helpful in beating bipolar and beating loneliness
- Regular sleep is essential to managing the condition.
- Perseverance. There will be setbacks and setbacks, but the will to get well and a positive attitude is vital.
We hope this information has helped. We really want you or someone who you care about to be able to beat bipolar and live a rich and fulfilling life by successfully managing the condition.
Please leave a comment if you’ve read this story for affirmation, feedback and discussion and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Or, if you would like to submit a story which can change and influence other lives please send it via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org We really hope you do beat your depression.
Featured photo by Nina Matthews Photography via flickr
References and further reading