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All these people suffered, or suffer from Bipolar
To accurately diagnose Bipolar Disorder is not often that
easy. People can go many years before a diagnosis is
Two main aspects to the Disorder are:- (1) you must have
had episodes or an episode of clinical depression and (2) you need to have
suffered from mania or hypomania (a slightly less intense mania).
You need to ask yourself whether there are times when you
feel more ‘wired’, ‘up’ or ‘hyper’ than in your ‘normal’ mood, or when you are
depressed. These experiences need also to be in the absence, or without the effect, of any drugs that may
cause these symptoms, whether they be illicit of prescribed.
Many great, creative and high achieving people have
suffered from Bipolar Disorder. Comedians such as Ben Stiller, Robin Williams & Jim Carey are prime
examples. This is not to say that Bipolar ensures success; far from it. Bipolar can be one of the most
devastating, debilitating and damaging mental illnesses.
Bipolar – Signs
Mood(everything’s great no matter
if it is not, or without any reasoning or rational
- Irritability(Intolerance & inability to cope with minor
irritations. Easily angered)
behaviour(in the absence of any
effect from drugs or alcohol. Could be overspending, erratic and dangerous
driving, speeding, disinhibited sexual behaviour, out of character
aggression & fights etc.)
energy(usually depriving the
sufferer of sleep. ‘Normal’ tiredness or lethargy is not experienced. Tend
to party long & hard, undertake extra activities or tasks, not
generally organized and well thought out and often multiple unfinished
- Creativity(unusual and out of character ‘grand’ ideas and plans.
Poor business decisions etc.)
- Mysticalexperiences or
psychotic symptoms (generally of a
psychotic depth, non reality based. Can be grandiose and often with strong
Famous people with Bipolar
Bipolar Disorder (the types)
There are basically two
(2) types of Bipolar Disorder, known as Bipolar Disorders (I) & (II).
People who suffer from Bipolar
(I) are more likely to experience longer periods of ‘mania’ and also psychotic symptoms.
Bipolar Disorder (II)
does not include psychotic symptoms and the episodes of mania generally last for a short time (hours or for a
maximum of a few days).
There are also those
people who experience ‘mixed episodes’ as part of their Bipolar illness. They display symptoms of
both Depression & Mania and their moods can change very quickly and within days or sometimes hours. They
feel ‘high’, then ‘low’ and then ‘high’ again.
Cycling’ is an experience Bipolar sufferers have where there are at least four (4) major changes of
mood in any one year. They can go from ‘Mania’ to ‘Depression’ to a ‘Mixed
In between mania and
depression, people usually return to a more stable mood. As a result assessment and treatment can often not
be sought. If untreated, Bipolar Disorder will only worsen in severity.
Bipolar Disorder (Behaviours)
Due to the alternate
moods exhibited with Bipolar Disorder, there is a need to recognize the ‘behaviours’ displayed by
the person during both Depressive and Manic phases of the illness.
The behaviours exhibited for the ‘depressive phase’ are identical to that of ‘Clinical Depression’. These are:
Spending less time with
friends & family – more
‘brooding’ that is out of
Overly sensitive –
finding it hard to take even minor
Changes in sleep
patterns such as waking through the night, difficulty getting to sleep
or waking very
Changes in appetite and
weight. This may be either loss of both or an increase in
Disinterest in the game
or the result.
Increased complaints of
physical illness, injury, pain, fatigue
Risk taking behaviours
– reckless and dangerous eg. Speeding, dangerous driving
Slowing of movements,
slumped posture, slower speech &
During the ‘manic phase’ of the illness, the following behaviours will most probably be
- Increased sex
- Hallucinations and/or
Generally the person suffering from Bipolar Disorder tends
not to ‘get in
trouble’ when in the ‘Depressive Phase’, though the risk of self harm &
suicide is very real.
During the ‘Manic Phase’, however, there is a different story. These episodes are ‘out there, in your face’ types and certainly attract a lot of attention from everyone they come in contact
with. Unfortunately, this can often involve the Law and other authorities, even club management & officials.
Treatment is essential for Bipolar Disorder. If not,
then the following consequences of the illness and associated behaviour may occur:
Causes for the Development of Bipolar Disorder
As with many 'mental
illnesses' there is no definitive cause for Bipolar Disorder. There are no blood tests or other types of
testing that can indicate you have, or will develop the illness.
Some of the suggested or noted anomolies in the individual with
Neurotransmitter or chemical
imbalances in the brain; with medical imaging techniques indicating changes & areas affected with
Abnormal function of the 'Thyroid' gland. One of the many
'routine' blood tests undertaken wwhen someone presents with symptoms of Bipolar are
'Thyroid function tests' (TFTs)
High levels of 'cortisol' - a 'stress' hormone
There certainly appears to be a
'vulnerability' or 'pre-disposition' to the development of Bipolar, with some research and
evidence suggesting a genetic link, however the most important factor to the manifestation of the illness lies in
certain 'triggers' that might give rise to its intrinsic symptoms being exhibited.
These 'triggers' are often
seen in other mental health conditions, disorders & illnesses, though if one has the aformentioned
'vulnerability' to Bipolar, then this may very well develop.
Triggers & Contributing Factors
- Stress- This does not have to be a
'negative' life event such as death or 'getting the
sack', but does imply sudden or 'intense' life incidents, events
- Seasonal changes
- As strange as it may seem to most, mood variances (from
mania/hypomania to depression) can be according to a seasonal pattern.
Winter months are more likely to induce a 'depressive' state
whereas summer or spring might bring with it elevated
- Substance use &
abuse - The use of certain drugs or substances may chemically
induce elevated mood or conversely depressive symptoms; either when
being used or after its withdrawal. These substances do not
'cause' Bipolar, though they may 'bring on' an episode
of extreme mood changes &/or exacerabate a pre-existing condition and the
course of the disorder.
- Medication - Some
medications, particularly 'anti-depressant' medications may
induce elevated mood in those susceptible or prone to Bipolar Disorder.
Any stimulant medication is likely to do so as can mediations that
affect the thyroid or adrenal gland.
disturbances or sleep deprivation - Those with Bipolar vulnerability can
have their mood adversely affected by limited or insufficient sleep. A problem
in this area is the fact that with an elevating mood, less sleep is sought or
needed and this will only intensify the hypomania/mania in a kind of
factors - Dietary deficiencies or over-indulgence in certain foods to
the exclusion of a 'balanced diet' may also affect those prone to
the development of Bipolar Disorder. Some foods are of a 'stimulant'
nature and all food is necessary for biochemical & hormonal stasis. This
can result in biochemical changes in the brain & hormonal imbalances; those
already mentioned above.
By looking at the 'triggers'
for Bipolar Disorder and the symptoms (depression, hypomania & mania), one can see more accurately how
prevention & managment of the disorder might be acheived. If these points above can 'trigger' the
disorder or an episode, then it stands to reason that by focusing on their control & effect, one has a better
chance of sustaining mental 'well-being'; without necessarily the aid of medication only. If medication is
necessary or prescribed, the measures noted below will optimize the effectiveness of the treatment
- Ensure you
have a well-balanced diet
adequate or sufficient sleep
'stress' as much as is possible
vigilance in the self examination of your mood, behaviour &
- Do not
& learn to relax
- Abstain from,
or limit your intake of alcohol
not indulge in any illicit substances or misuse prescription
- Take any
medication prescribed by
your Doctor according to how it is ordered and how you are instructed to
- If possible,
encourage your GP to order routine blood tests to monitor 'thyroid
function' etc. and attend regular 'physical
examinations' for your overall 'heatlh status'. Should you
be prescribed 'mood stabilizing' medication ensure you attend the
essential regular blood tests for the appropriate drug
- Learn the art
of 'early recognition' of signs & symptoms
of both developing depression or elevated mood
- Should you
find your mood altering, a 'swift' response is required -
take yourself off to your GP or other clinician as soon as
(a personal story)
Please click here for Bipolar Disorder 'Fact Sheet'.
Should you have concerns regarding any issue relating to your 'mental or
physical well-being', 'Kick off' strongly recommend you seek professional assistance. This
may entail contacting your GP or similar clinician (Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Counsellor etc.). You may
also contact the appropriate agency or service that might assist you. Irrespective of your choice, ensure you
see someone who might help.
Black Dog Institute