Bipolar disorder runs in families – there are powerful genetic components to the disorder, but people with no family history of bipolar disorder can also develop it. The reasons for this are not clear.
Childbirth is more likely to trigger an episode of bipolar disorder than anything else.
In a person susceptible to bipolar disorder a number of other factors may also act as a trigger. Examples of this include:
- Sleep deprivation – not surprisingly having a baby often leads to this.
- Physical illness.
- Certain medications including antidepressants.
- Certain illicit drugs.
- Travelling across time zones.
The biggest block to good treatment is resistance to accepting the diagnosis. This is often a big problem because there are still many people who are ignorant about mental illness and for them there is a stigma attached to it.
A wide range of treatments are useful for bipolar disorder. These include:
- Bio-social rhythms (keeping certain regular routines).
- Stress reduction.
- ‘Talking therapies’.
Usually a combination of these treatments is needed.
It is important for the family to be involved in treatment decisions.
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