Can You Develop Bipolar Disorder Over Time?

While it’s become almost a trend to “self-diagnose” as bipolar for people that believe they experience significant shifts in happiness and sadness over a short period, the term is often overused and used incorrectly. Just like many other mental health issues, bipolar disorder is generally misunderstood and generalized. 

We’re going to take a look at what exactly bipolar disorder is, and how it can have such a serious effect on an individual’s life. We’ll answer the question of “can you develop bipolar disorder” as well as “when can you develop bipolar disorder.” Most importantly, we’ll look at treatments for bipolar disorder and how you and those close to you can get help when it’s needed most.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness known as a mood disorder. Extreme high and low mood cycling is why it was called manic depression in the past. While depressed moods are often typical of many different mood disorders, the factor that makes bipolar unique is the presence of extreme high points, referred to as mania or manic episodes. The depressive episodes are long-lasting and the mania can be dangerously impulsive.

How Does Bipolar Disorder Manifest?

Bipolar disorder manifests as a difficulty in regulating the severity of moods that creates cycles of extreme moods. There are depressive episodes and manic episodes, bipolar type I has mania but may not have depression, while type II will feature both.

The depressive episodes are often the more severe and long-lasting state and result in significant apathy, fatigue, and feelings of hopelessness or being worthless. There can also be significant disruption in the patient’s sleep cycles, due to hypersomnia or insomnia. The manic episodes will massively inflate the sense of self-worth, and can lead to feelings of euphoria, elation, anxiety, impulsiveness, and hunger.

The two mood extremes will continue to cycle, with depressive episodes sometimes lasting for weeks and even months. The mania is generally more short-lived, but it can come with the risk of psychosis.

Can You Develop Bipolar Disorder?

You can develop bipolar disorder later in life, despite many diagnoses made during childhood or teen years. Some of these cases involve bipolar disorder or cyclothymic disorder that are new, and some have been present for many years and are only diagnosed later in life.

The majority of people with bipolar disorder will develop it during the teen years, and the onset can be incredibly sudden. These dramatic changes in mood extremes will start by taking place over several days, but the emotional “cycles” can be as short as a few hours.

What Are Risk Factors For Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder impacts nearly 3% of adults in the US, however there doesn’t seem to be many concrete causes for why it develops. Some of the risk factors are thought to be:

  • Enduring extended periods of high stress
  • Traumatic childhood events
  • Substance use and alcohol use disorders
  • Co-occurring mental health issues

What Are Treatment Options For Bipolar Disorder?

Only a medical professional can officially diagnose bipolar disorder, but with a positive diagnosis, there are many types of treatments available. In addition to ongoing counseling and therapy programs, the patient will often be prescribed one or more medications.

Antidepressants can help boost serotonin levels, which leads to more positive moods but doesn’t help with mania. Mood stabilizers are often used to help treat manic episodes, and antipsychotics are used in some cases where the patient has symptoms of psychosis during mania.

Casa Recovery Can Be Your Trusted Mental Health Partner

If you or someone you care about may have developed bipolar disorder, the key to effective treatment is early diagnosis and learning the tools to manage it.  Reach out today and speak with a local mental health expert about your treatment needs.

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