Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder, is a brain condition characterised by mood shifts. It causes an individual to fluctuate between two distinct moods: mania and depression. Globally, 2–5% of people are affected, with most experiencing depression episodes more frequently than mania.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder's origins are multifaceted:

  • Genetic Factors: Both hereditary genes and congenital genetic irregularities contribute.
  • Brain Chemicals: Imbalances in the brain can lead to the condition.
  • Environmental Influences: Upbringing and accumulated stress play roles.
  • Medical Conditions: For instance, hypothyroidism can trigger bipolar disorder.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Patients display varying symptoms based on their mood phase:


  • Loss of interest in activities.
  • Feeling tormented and fatigued.
  • Pessimism and boredom.
  • Potential suicidal ideation.


  • Feelings of superiority.
  • Reduced need for sleep without feeling tired.
  • Rapid speech and thought.
  • Difficulty focusing and constantly changing interests.
  • Impulsivity in decisions, often leading to reckless behaviour.
  • Potential aggression and hallucinations.

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder

Diagnosis encompasses:

  • Patient consultation and medical record review.
  • Physical examination and psychological assessment through questionnaires.
  • Analysing family history for any psychological conditions.
  • Checking for medications that might induce bipolar-like symptoms.

For individuals experiencing distinct mood swings, or those whose daily life is affected (e.g., in relationships or job performance), or those with eating disorders or insomnia, it's crucial to seek medical evaluation.

Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder

Effective management is essential:

  • Medication: The primary treatment involves psychiatric drugs to regulate moods. After 2–8 weeks, most patients witness symptom reduction.
  • Psychological Therapy: Some patients benefit from therapy, aiding in stress management and relationship conflict resolution.
  • Long-term Care: With recurrence rates up to 90%, continuous medication for at least 2 years is often recommended. The duration might extend based on the patient's history.

Advice for Patients and Their Families

For Patients:

  • Prioritise sleep and overall health, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
  • Engage in stress-reducing activities.
  • Adhere to medication and consult doctors before making changes.
  • Educate oneself about the disorder and seek prompt medical attention if symptoms worsen.
  • Inform close ones about the disorder's indicators.

For Family and Friends:

  • Recognise the illness-driven nature of any aberrant behaviours.
  • Ensure the patient follows medical advice and prescribed medication.
  • Educate oneself about bipolar disorder to identify symptom aggravation.
  • Offer assistance with potential harm-causing behaviours.
  • Encourage medication adherence and offer support during recovery.