How do I help my bipolar friend

Bipolar Disorder - The Most Important Information for Relatives

Everyone knows mood swings, they are part of our everyday life. The deflections of our mood get a disease value when they clearly exceed the usual extent and, above all, occur without external causes or for minor reasons. Typical for a bipolar disorder are not only changes in mood, but also in the rhythm of the day, sleep behavior, social behavior, drive, thinking and self-esteem.

Most people today can imagine a relatively clear clinical picture under the term depression. If depression occurs repeatedly, one speaks of a recurring or recurrent illness with a unipolar course. Unipolar means here that only depressive episodes occur, but no manic phases. This is different with bipolar disorder. Although there are also depressive phases here (these usually predominate), there are also upward deviations in mood.

People who are acutely manic also suffer from an increase in drive and from insomnia, inventiveness, vagueness and ideas of size that can escalate into madness (irrational ideas). This can lead to a distorted perception and interpretation of reality, and mistakes can result. These mistakes can be fatal. The result can be bad purchases (“buying frenzy”), professional relationships and / or social contacts are stressed or endangered.

Manic episodes are usually less common and shorter than depressive episodes. In the vast majority of cases, they result in depressive fluctuations. These can be long and serious. On the one hand, the person is mentally and physically exhausted, on the other hand, the depressive episode is often used to account for the illness and the consequences of mania.

During the mania, the person concerned is usually neither given insight into the disease nor treatment, which is why medical-therapeutic access is difficult.
Diagnosing a manic episode is usually not difficult for a doctor. On the other hand, hypomanic phases of bipolar disorder are underdiagnosed. Signs of hypomania are increased drive, inventiveness and flight of ideas, ideas of size and a high level of energy, but to a lesser extent than in mania. The person affected can even remain able to work, even though he is noticeable in his environment due to his high energy level, possibly also border crossings and other symptoms.

However, the episodes are not always assigned a disease value. Hypomanic phases in particular are often perceived by those affected as “energetic” and “creative” instead of “sick”. There is hardly any treatment request. Only in the depressive phase do patients go to the doctor, but report little about the hypomanic phases, as they were not perceived as stressful in their memories.

Patients who experience manic and depressive phases are described as type I bipolar. If “only” hypomanic episodes occur instead of manic phases, the disorder is referred to as bipolar type II. The diagnosis of this form of bipolar disorder is often not made or is made late because the disease itself is usually not recognized by the patient.