“Look at your aunt,” my uncle said to me.
“Always so happy and cheerful, uncle. She’s amazing.” I said to him.
“That’s because we’re on vacation. She is on a high, all happy and fired up. But once we get home, it will be depressive phase all over again.” He said to me with sad eyes.
“What do you mean uncle? Is auntie suffering from depression?” I asked him.
“Not just depression. Your auntie has bipolar disorder.” He said with a firm voice, and you can feel his concern.
Bipolar disorder. My favorite aunt has a mental health condition. What happened to her? I researched about the illness, and this is what I found out.
What is a bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental health issue that impacts a person’s moods. At one time, the person can be thrilled and manic, overactive and at a state of high. After that, you need to expect a downhill of emotions, usually the extreme or opposite of overjoy which is depression. The person will then become so down and lethargic.
Statistics of people with bipolar disorder in the US
Studies show that at least 5.7 million American people have bipolar disorder. It is about 2.6% of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health and it usually occurs to people over 18 years of age.
How to live with bipolar disorder
The disorder can interfere with a person’s everyday life. It is because of the moods which are so extreme, and it’s so difficult to manage, at times. Who can cope with being super joyful and jumping up and down with happiness today while tomorrow, you can be overly depressed, hopeless, helpless and maybe even suicidal? It is not a joke. This is a real problem, and it is happening.
“Manic episodes can be brief, but there is such a long tail of disruption to one’s life — the money spent, the affairs had, the cars crashed, the bosses alienated,” said Michael Otto, PhD, professor of psychology and director of the Translational Research Program at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University. “Early intervention can head off the destructiveness of those episodes.” If you want to live a healthy life, you have to will yourself to get better and focus on bipolar disorder treatment.
Treatment options for people with bipolar disorder
- There are medications called “mood stabilizers” that can regulate a manic episode, hypomania (or a lesser state of mania), and clinical depression. These prescription drugs must be taken daily without fail by the person with bipolar disorder to work correctly. Ask your therapist or certified bipolar disorder specialist for this option, if it will be the best approach for you.
- Medicine to primarily treat depression may also work for someone with bipolar disorder. Signs and symptoms of manic episodes and depression may be curbed as it occurs.
- Psychotherapy is also a treatment option for people with bipolar disorder. Talk therapy helps in dealing with depression, and one can even learn of ways to improve their behavior. “The first line of intervention for bipolar disorder is medication,” said Simon A. Rego, PsyD, ABPP, ACT, chief psychologist at Montefiore Medical Center and associate professor and director of psychology training of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “But some patients with bipolar disorder may have trouble complying with medication and/or dealing with the consequences of the disorder.” He added, implying that this is where psychosocial therapies can help patients.
- Sleep deprivation “is one of the biggest triggers for a manic episode,” psychotherapist Sheri Van Dijk, MSW explained. She emphasized that “it’s very important for people with bipolar disorder to have a regular sleep schedule.” Sleep, regular exercise, and a healthy eating lifestyle can also do wonders for people with the condition. When a person is well-rested, it is less likely for him to be depressed. If he is involved in positive activities, he can learn to keep his good mood intact. Natural foods are also the best option in transmitting feel-good hormones to the brain compared to processed foods.
- A combination of the treatment options mentioned above is the best solution.
I want my aunt to be able to manage her disorder because I love her so much. She is my second mother. And so, I went to her and hugged her tight. She was surprised by the action, but after a few seconds, she hugged me back. I told her, “You have me beside you, all the way.” Her only answer was “I know, kiddo. I love you too.”