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Bipolar Disorder In India: Different Types And How To Cope With It

  • timeline Deepanwita Roy
  • 5 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

Bipolar disorder is a serious psychiatric condition characterized by unpredictable swings in mood. The changes in mood vary from extreme elevation of mood to extreme lowering of mood. Speaking specifically about Bipolar Disorder in India, here are the stats –  0.5 per 1000 to 21 per 1000 annually get diagnosed with bipolar disorders. The typical age range is between 20 to 30 years of age, also, women have more depressive episodes and men have more manic episodes over a lifetime.

For a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder, there has to be at least two episodes of mania or one episode of mania followed by one depressive episode. There are different types of Bipolar Disorder – read to understand how each of them is treated. In this country, speaking about mental health disorders can be taboo, but Bipolar Disorder in India is real and should be addressed.

What is a manic episode?

A manic episode is defined by a distinct period of persistently elevated or irritable mood, lasting at least one week duration with symptoms such as:
– Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity
– Lack of sleep/ reduced need for sleep
– Pressure to keep talking
– Flight of ideas or racing thoughts,
– Easy distractibility
– Restlessness
– Impulsive acts such as engaging in unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments

What is a depressive episode?

Often a manic episode is followed by a depressive episode which is defined by extreme lowering of mood with decreased activity for at least 2 weeks with symptoms such as:
A feeling of sadness or hopelessness
– Loss of interest in almost all activities
– Reduced energy levels or easy fatigability
– Inability to concentrate
– Reduced self esteem and self confidence
– Sense of worthlessness or excessive guilt
– Bleak or pessimistic views of future
– Thoughts of suicide or attempting to end your life.
– Either insomnia or sleeping too much
– Decreased appetite

An untreated episode of mania can last from 2 weeks to 4-5 months, whereas an episode of untreated depression may last up to 6-8 months, and rarely up to a year.

What are the different types of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorders include a spectrum of different types of disorders depending on the predominant symptoms.

Bipolar disorder Type I This involves one or more manic episodes which may or may not be followed by a depressive episode.
Bipolar disorder Type II This involves one or more major depressive episodes followed by at least one hypomanic episode. Hypomania is defined by a milder form of mania. Although it is less debilitating than Bipolar disorder Type I, it can cause significant distress at work or school and with relationships.
Cyclothymia This is characterized by alternating mild depression and hypomanic episodes. The symptoms should be present for at least years to receive a diagnosis of cyclothymia.
Rapid cycling bipolar disorder Rapid cyclers suffer from a more severe form of bipolar disorder. It involves at least 4 episodes or major depression, mania, hypomania or mixed episodes within one year. Rapid cycling disorder is seen more commonly in women compared to men.
Not otherwise specified This category is for individuals with symptoms of bipolar disorder that do not fit into the above mentioned types. It is diagnosed when multiple symptoms of bipolar disorder are identified, but do not fit the criteria for any of the sub types. They include rapid mood changes that do not last enough to qualify for bipolar disorder episodes and those with multiple episodes of hypomania without major depressive periods.

 

What are the treatment options for Bipolar Disorder?

An array of treatments are available for the management of bipolar disorder, which usually involves a combination of medication, psychotherapy, and adapting to lifestyle changes.

(1) Medications: The medications for bipolar disorders, like any other mental health conditions, are available only as prescription-only drugs and must not be self-prescribed at any cost. Only a psychiatrist can prescribe such medications and it’s extremely essential for the patients to be in regular contact with their psychiatrist to adjust dosages and duration of the medicines based on their symptoms. 

(2) Psychotherapy: Depending on the specialty of the psychotherapist, ideally, psychotherapy includes a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) and psychoeducation. In CBT, the client works hand in hand with the therapist in identifying their thinking patterns, coming up with coping strategies and ways to manage their symptoms in an effective manner. IPSRT helps the clients to focus on daily activities such as sleeping, exercising and eating. Effectively managing these activities help the clients maintain a balance in their daily life and helps them cope with bipolar disorder. Psychoeducation plays a significant role in therapy to help the client as well as their family members to understand bipolar disorder and what it means to be diagnosed with it. Understanding the situation helps family and friends cope with it and manage it better.

(3) Lifestyle modifications: Consciously putting in efforts to bring in changes in client’s daily activities help one manage bipolar disorder better. The following can be incorporated for the same:
– 
Sticking to a routine for sleeping and eating. Simultaneously giving structure to days. It is important to schedule daily tasks and chores and make sure that these include adequate rest and periods of free time in between to relax.
– Keeping oneself engaged and busy throughout the day. Even on days when there’s nothing to fall back at, it is important to fight back at your fear.
– Avoiding keeping things to oneself. Instead, spend your time in groups that share common interests or staying in touch with family and friends. Knowing that one has the support of loved ones helps elevate your mood.
– Finding new ways to relieve stress, finding new ways will help you to alleviate your symptoms as well.
– Joining support groups: being around and talking to people with bipolar disorder will be reassuring and allow one to understand that you are not alone. 

The Bottom Line: Bipolar disorder can be controlled and can be managed by having a functioning lifestyle even if there is no cure. Following a treatment plan and making modifications in your lifestyle can go a long way. Bipolar Disorder In India at times seems to push the narrative that medications are always needed, but each case is different and only a psychotherapist can help with them.

Bipolar Disorder in India is rarely talked about but bringing awareness to mental health conditions will only help those that are suffering. While it can be hard to trust a psychotherapist or to some can even result in anxiety to meet someone new, an online consultation could be an option. Download the MFine App to consult with a psychotherapist should you have any questions about Bipolar Disorder. If you or someone you know are exhibiting symptoms of mental illness, a psychotherapist will help diagnose the condition and help treat it the best way possible.

  • timeline
  • Written by

    Deepanwita Roy

Registered Clinical Psychologist

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