Bipolar Disorder Pathophysiology

There are two main kinds of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I Disorder and Bipolar II Disorder. The biggest difference between them is whether the person has had a manic episode or not because bipolar disorder has manic as well as depressive episodes as symptoms of bipolar disorder. Tests for bipolar disorder pathophysiology is essential to get effective and purposeful treatment.

Types of bipolar disorder pathophysiology

Manic Episodes

Symptoms of a manic episode are:

  • magnified self-esteem
  • irregular sleeping pattern
  • chattiness
  • racing thoughts
  • distractibility
  • increase in objective-oriented routine

Extreme superfluous involvement in pleasurable routines such as wild shopping or wild sexual desire that can lead to potentially negative consequences.

Depressive Episodes

The main symptoms of a depressive episode are:

  • continuous depressed mood
  • lack of pleasure and happiness
  • excessive weight loss or gain
  • insomnia or hypersomnia
  • restlessness
  • lack of energy
  • fatigue
  • feelings of worthlessness
  • inability to concentrate &
  • continuous thoughts of death or suicide.

According to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder (DSM-5), if a patient is experiencing five symptoms of depression for a period of fifteen days and at least one of those symptoms (such as depressed mood) all the time or has a complete loss of interest in pleasurable routines, they are having a depressive episode.

Depressive Mania

Mania and depression episodes normally recur for the entire life of the patient. Between episodes, though, many people with bipolar disorder are typically free of symptoms.

There are, however, around 1/3 of patients who have residual symptoms. A particularly small number of people experience chronic, unremitting symptoms despite getting proper treatment for bipolar disorder.

As time passes, rapid cycling develops in the illness which turns into depressive mania. This is more common among women than men.

Mood Disturbances

According to the literature of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V) of the American Psychiatric Association, a manic episode can occur if a person experiences a mood disturbance as well as a lot of other symptoms for a period of at least one week.

A pivotal factor is that if these symptoms have come into being due to drug abuse or hyperthyroidism, they are not termed as a manic episode.

A Closer Look at Bipolar Disorder Pathophysiology

To understand bipolar disorder, it is of immense importance to take a closer look at the two types of the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar I Disorder patients have experienced at least one manic episode in combination with depressive episodes.

Bipolar II Disorder patients experience one or more depressive episodes in combination with at least one episode of hypomania without any manic episodes.

The difference between the two bipolar types of this disorder is that a person suffering from Bipolar I Disorder must experience a manic episode.

Grading Bipolar Disorder Pathophysiology

Determining the kind of bipolar disorder being suffered is not as simple as grading solely based on the complexity of the symptoms. This type of analysis is totally baseless because Bipolar I Disorder and Bipolar II Disorder differ specifically in experiencing manic episodes. They are more classified based on the level to which the mania occurs rather than on the level of impairment the disorder causes.

Bipolar Effects

Bipolar disorder affects individuals differently. A study took a sample of people who have been diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder came up with a wide spectrum of levels of impairment, distress, and adaptation to the disorder. The same holds true for individuals suffering from Bipolar II Disorder.

Getting Help

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder pathophysiology and you still have some questions regarding this illness, it is advisable that you speak with your health care provider to find out more. There is nothing wrong with educating yourself about bipolar disorder as it can play a prominent part in treatment and recovery.

Tests for Bipolar Disorder Pathophysiology

If you need a successful treatment of a bipolar disorder, the right diagnosis is an absolute way. Diagnosis is not as straightforward as symptoms of bipolar disorder are episodic.

A detailed medical and mental health history of you and your family is required. Even though bipolar disorder is a psychological illness, an exhaustive medical record is taken and a thorough physical exam is required to rule out any sort of physical cause of the symptoms to make an effective test for bipolar disorder.

Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder Pathophysiology

It is of the utmost importance that a complete history of current and past symptoms be taken into account when giving the patient’s history.

Depressed patients often experience psychomotor retardation, have a decreased routine, decreased rate of speech as well as other symptoms. Manic patients tend to experience the opposite in terms of activity, speech, and routine.

Depressed Patients

Some patients suffering from the depressive state of bipolar disorder may have delusions and hallucinations. According to a study conducted on depressed patients, have a pessimistic view of themselves and of the world, many have attempted suicide or contemplated it.

Manic Patients

Manic patients are very euphoric, excited and hyperactive; they can appear psychotic to people who do not understand that they are having a manic episode.

The speech of manic patients becomes louder, faster and tough to interpret as they can be filled with jokes, rhymes, word salad, neologisms, and irrelevancies. Manic patients have difficulty concentrating on one topic and exhibit flight of ideas.

Many manic persons have delusions of grandeur, boast of extraordinary abilities, affluence or power. Apart from that, they can have a low frustration tolerance and become very irritable.

Thorough medical history

A thorough medical history and physical exam should be implemented to exclude any possible physical causes for mood swings such as head injury, AIDS and diabetes.

Medicine taken by the patient should be accounted for because corticosteroids and drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease, depression and anxiety can lead to bipolar-type mood symptoms.

Experts also advise blood and urine tests for drugs and alcohol to rule out the physiological effects of these substances. Your health care provider will also ask for the family medical history because recent studies have concluded that bipolar disorder has a strong genetic association.

Detecting Bipolar Disorder Pathophysiology

Bipolar disorder pathophysiology is quite tough to differentiate from other conditions and, despite advancements in medical technology, there is no distinct method to detect bipolar disorder. Because there is no way to definitively diagnose bipolar disorder with a simple barrage of tests, many individuals suffer from bipolar disorder for a long time before getting the right diagnosis and treatment.

Dual Nature

Bipolar disorder pathophysiology is dual in nature, which makes it tough for the condition to be detected easily. Recent research has come to the conclusion that during the manic or hypomanic stage, affected patients seldom ask for a treatment because of feelings of euphoria and extreme optimism.

When they experience depression they may not seek help because of low feelings. They may have coping mechanisms that hide the symptoms so other people are unable to seek help for them.

Questionnaire and Exams

There is no laboratory test to detect bipolar disorder, but mental health professionals can determine if an individual has bipolar disorder symptoms. They will sometimes make use of a questionnaire.

The Mood Disorder Questionnaire, or MDQ, works to get a complete psychiatric history, medical history, and physical exam. If no physical cause is found, and the symptoms lean in the direction of bipolar disorder pathophysiology, the patient will be diagnosed and begin treatment.

Scans like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Positron-Emission Tomographic (PET) can also go a long way in detecting abnormalities in the brain which can lead to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Professional Help

Most people will seek professional help when they are in the depressive phase but they tend to take into account only the depressive symptoms they experience and do not initially give details of mania. Due to this, they are often incorrectly diagnosed with depression instead of tests for bipolar disorder. The diagnosis becomes more complex because the symptoms in bipolar disorder pathophysiology are similar to other psychiatric disorders.

Recommended Books: Bipolar Disorder FD 3E (For Dummies)


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