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Mania is a challenging symptom of bipolar disorder

Have you ever noticed a friend or family member undergo what seems like a complete personality transformation? Perhaps someone who used to be reserved suddenly becomes the life of the party, or a quiet individual becomes a rapid-fire talker.

This dramatic shift could be a manifestation of mania, one of the extreme mood states associated with bipolar disorder. Individuals with this serious mental illness may cycle between episodes of mania and depression over their lifetime, with only one episode of mania needed for diagnosis.

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. People with bipolar disorder experience periods of intense emotional highs, known as mania or hypomania, alternating with periods of depression. These mood swings can range from severe manic episodes, where individuals may feel overly energetic, impulsive, and euphoric, to depressive episodes marked by feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy. Bipolar disorder can significantly disrupt daily functioning and interfere with relationships, work, and other aspects of life. It is a chronic condition that typically requires lifelong management through medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes.

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Despite some of these symptoms seeming benign, the behaviour of a manic individual is often reckless, impulsive, and potentially harmful, leading to significant disruptions in daily functioning.

Frequently lacking insight, manic individuals may engage in uncharacteristic behaviour such as excessive spending or irrational arguments. Family members often notice a complete personality shift, with fears dissipating and once-cautious individuals taking up risky activities.

For medical professionals, a sudden change in a previously cooperative patient’s behaviour may signal trouble. However, individuals in a manic state may fail to acknowledge the impact of their actions, quitting jobs or damaging relationships without remorse.

Treatment of mania can be challenging, as those experiencing it often feel good and may not recognize the danger of their actions. In some cases, family intervention is necessary to ensure the safety of the manic individual.

Doctors typically treat mania by combining:

  1. Medication: Mood stabilizers, such as lithium or anticonvulsant medications like valproate or lamotrigine, are commonly prescribed to help regulate mood swings and prevent manic episodes. Doctors may also prescribe antipsychotic medications to manage severe symptoms of mania.
  2. Therapy: Psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or interpersonal therapy, can help individuals understand and cope with their manic symptoms. Therapy sessions may focus on identifying triggers for manic episodes, developing strategies to manage symptoms, and improving communication skills.
  3. Lifestyle changes: Adopting healthy lifestyle habits can support overall well-being and help manage symptoms of mania. These include maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs, engaging in regular exercise, and managing stress through relaxation techniques such as mindfulness or meditation.
  4. Support networks: Building a strong support network of family, friends, and mental health professionals can provide invaluable support during manic episodes. Support groups or peer support networks may also offer encouragement and understanding from individuals who have experienced similar challenges.

If you or a loved one exhibits signs of mania, consult a family doctor for assistance. Treatment is available, offering relief from the cycle of extreme mood swings.

| Staff

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