Sometimes when people fail a big test, it dampens their spirits. Similarly, when they go through a bad breakup, they feel pretty down. We all, at some point in our lives, have felt similar emotions. In our day-to-day life, everyone experiences ups and downs every now and then. Eventually, time passes on and our mood becomes better and we become “ourselves” again. Unlike most people, individuals living with bipolar disorder cycle through extreme mood swings that cause disruption to their daily life and of those around them.
Let us look at the story of Rohit.
At 30, Rohit was at the pinnacle of his career, with a high-paying salary. Then his life was cruelly turned upside down by life-altering events: the death of a parent, followed by a crushing first episode of major depression. For many years, Rohit struggled with severe depression and hypertension without much headway. Then something strange happened. He suddenly pulled out of the depression and dove into his work. Not only that, but he felt the surge of energy and self-confidence that he used to have. No one questioned his renewed energy and vigour because he had always been vivacious. His friends noticed that he spoke loudly and rapidly, and they had difficulty interrupting him.
It is hard to pin-point what Rohit is going through, but one can understand that these are not experiences of majority of the people. Rapid changes in moods – ranging from extreme sadness (depression) to extreme elation (mania) lead to changes in a person’s thoughts, energy, and behaviour. In between a person may regular moods and their “mood swings” can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months. Bipolar disorder comes in different shapes and sizes and can be difficult to diagnose. Often, these states of a person make it difficult for them to maintain their relationships and roles and responsibilities and may severely disrupt their lifestyle.
With bipolar disorder, you don’t just feel “down in the dumps;” your depressive state may lead to suicidal thoughts that change over to feelings of euphoria and endless energy. These extreme mood swings can occur more frequently – such as every week – or show up more sporadically – maybe just twice a year. There is also no defined pattern to the mood swings. One does not always occur before the other – and the length of time you are in one state or the other varies as well. The good news is that there are a number of treatments that can keep your moods in check – allowing you to live a productive life.
Medications and psychotherapy are the most commonly prescribed treatment plans for people suffering from bipolar disorder. And the success rate of these treatment plans is great if followed correctly and consistently.
If you are living with bipolar depression, it is important to follow your treatment plan. Pay attention to warning signs or triggers – this can help you seek additional treatment, talk with your counselor or mental health provider, and prevent the onset of a full attack. Avoid drugs and alcohol, and take your medication as prescribed – even on days you feel fine. Following your treatment plan, educating yourself about your disorder, and engaging in prevention techniques will positively contribute to your overall well-being and life satisfaction.