Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is quite common psychiatric illness that is also known as the manic-depressive psychosis. It belongs among the mood disorders.


Like other mental illnesses, the reason of bipolar psychosis is not clearly known. There is certainly some genetic predisposition combined with some external factors triggering the onset of the disease. It is assumed that the condition is related to imbalance of neuromediators, which are substances transmitting the neuroelectric signals among neurons in the brain. Bipolar disorder can occur at virtually any age, but it typically starts to manifest in teenagers and young adults.


The patient's mood pathologically changes as a “roller coaster” with alternating periods of relatively normal mood and periods of depressive and manic behavior. Depressive phase corresponds to the classic depression. The person is inactive, sad, without any interest, he or she avoids social contacts and often suffers from suicidal thoughts. There is a deep anhedony, i.e. inability to experience pleasure and happiness. Manic period is totally opposite. The patient is full of optimism, irrational self-esteem and performs bizarre activities (useless shopping, organizing various events, etc.). Often, the people spend an incredible amount of money from their family budget and that is why the bipolar disorder is a very annoying problem for both the patient and his surroundings.


The diagnosis is confirmed by the psychiatrist on basis of medical history and examination of the patient. The psychiatrist should specify the exact subtype of the disorder (bipolar disorder can have many specific forms) and decide the appropriate treatment.


Antidepressants combined with mood-stabilizers (e.g. lithium) are the basic means of therapy.  While antidepressants prevent the depressive phase of the illness, mood stabilizers prevent the transition into mania. Sometimes, antipsychotic drugs are used. Electroshock therapy also has a significant effect and because of its undeserved negative image I have decided to dedicate it a special short article. For the patient, it is important to regularly use the prescribed medication, even when feeling completely healthy. The patient should also avoid alcohol and other addictive substances.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources