Bipolar disorder symptoms affect 44 million Americans. Bipolar symptoms are characterized by mood disorders that can be identified as a shift in a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. It can further be distinguished by the person experiencing cycles of manic episodes. These episodes are characterized by an abnormally elevated mood and depressive episodes or symptoms. But what factors trigger these episodes?
Research indicates that some people are genetically predisposed to bipolar disorder. However, not everyone that has an inherited vulnerability develops the illness. This is a clear indication that there are also external factors that play a major role. These external risk factors are called triggers. Triggers can set off a bipolar disorder or prolong an existing mood episode. Many episode of mania or depression occur, however, without an obvious trigger.
Here are some triggers:
Stress – Is something we all face from time to time. People with bipolar disorder who suffer severe stress or emotional trauma can find it even more difficult to deal with stress.
Major Life Event – Major life events both good and bad can trigger an episode of bipolar disorder. These events tend to involve drastic or sudden changes.
Substance Abuse – While substance abuse doesn’t cause bipolar disorder, it can bring on an episode and worsen the course of the disease. Drugs such as cocaine, ecstasy, and amphetamines can trigger mania, while alcohol and tranquilizers can trigger depression.
Medication – Certain medications, most notably antidepressant drugs, can trigger mania. Other drugs that may induce mania include over-the-counter cold medicine, appetite suppressants, caffeine, corticosteroids, and thyroid medication.
Seasonal Changes – Episodes of mania and depression often follow a seasonal pattern. Manic episodes are more common during the summer, and depressive episodes more common during the fall, winter, and spring.
Sleep Deprivation – Loss of sleep-even as little as skipping a few hours of rest-can trigger an episode of mania.
Not sure if you or someone you know may be suffering from bipolar disorder symptoms? Further warning signs of bipolar depression include:
- Feeling hopeless, sad, or empty
- Excessive crying
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Fatigue or loss of energy
- Physical and mental sluggishness
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Bipolar disorder may also have manic episodes. These episodes can be different than the depressive phase of bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder manic episodes symptoms include:
- Inappropriate sense of euphoria (elation)
- Racing thoughts; talking too much
- Extreme irritability
- Reckless behavior
- Abnormal sleep
- Excessive energy
- Out of control spending
- Difficulty concentrating
- Abnormally increased activity, including sexual activity
- Poor judgment
- Aggressive behavior
If you or someone you know suffer from or display any of these symptoms, consult a physician for the most accurate diagnosis on mental health.