What are the causes of Bipolar Causes and Symptoms in Females?

 Bipolar Causes and Symptoms in Females

Mental health refers to emotional and behavioral well-being. The absence of mental disorder and emotional well-being is termed a mental disorder. There are various types of mental disorders or illnesses. One such disorder is Bipolar Disorder. 

Bipolar Disorder is a mental illness that causes extreme mood shifts. Symptoms range from an extreme elevation of mood called mania to episodes of depression. Therefore, we also call this disorder Manic Depression or Bipolar Disease. People suffering from bipolar disorder suffer from various difficulties in performing day-to-day activities and if not treated, the person may also turn suicidal. Thus, timely diagnosis and treatment of this disorder are necessary. 

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Although bipolar disorder occurs with the same frequency in both men and women the condition might be expressed in both sexes in different manners. As we know, the body of women and men functions differently and thus effects of bipolar disorder can vary between women and men. Due to various body functions such as menstruation cycle, pregnancy, etc., hormonal balance keeps on fluctuating and that is why women are at higher risk of relapse. We will read more about it further in the article.

Types of Bipolar Disorder: 

Type of bipolar disorder can be characterized by the symptoms. Basically by keeping a check on mania and depression. Periods of extreme euphoria or energy are called mania while episodes of sadness or hopelessness are called depression. Each type of bipolar disorder shows differences in manic and depressive episodes. Major three types of bipolar disorder are:

  • Bipolar I Disorder – This includes experiencing at least one manic episode which may occur before or after depressive episodes and last for one week. Women and men are likely to develop this in equal numbers. 
  • Bipolar II Disorder -  This involves experiencing depressive episodes that last for at least two weeks with or without hypomanic episodes. Women are more likely to develop bipolar II disorder. Female hormones result in a greater number of depressive episodes. Thus, women are likely to have more symptoms of depression than manic episodes. 
  • Cyclothymic Disorder – This is a type of bipolar disorder that is less severe than the other types. The symptoms of the cyclothymic disorder may continue for generally a period of 2 years. It includes reoccurring hypomanic and depressive episodes that are not severe enough to be diagnosed as Bipolar II Disorder.  

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder:

Symptoms for bipolar disorder may or may not be the same for men and women. Some of the common symptoms that occur in both men and women are:

  • Reduced sleep
  • Distracted mood 
  • Elevated mood 
  • Extreme energy (euphoria)
  • Highly irritated mood 
  • Rapid speech or ideas flow 
  • Feeling low/ down 

Some of the major symptoms of Depression are: 

  • Depression: When a person feels extremely low or upset, this condition is known as depression. A person may feel extremely upset and low on energy when depressed. These depressive episodes may last for a week or more. Depressive episodes are more likely to occur in women than men. 
  • Mania: It is a state of elevated mood. A person, at the time of mania, feels very energetic and highly spirited. Along with this, the person may also feel irritable. Manic episodes can last for a week or even longer. Some “psychotic features” such as hallucinations are also experienced sometimes by the patient.
  • Hypomania: Hypomania is the same as mania but with less severity. Due to hypomanic episodes, the person may feel elevated mood less severe than during manic episodes. Hypomanic episodes are likely to occur more in women than men. 
  • Mixed Mania: When a person experience both depressive as well as manic episodes for a week or longer, it is known as mixed episode. Mixed manic episodes are experienced more by women as compared to men. 
  • Rapid Cycling: The episodes may alternate rapidly or slowly. Bipolar disorder is characterized by how quickly or slowly these episodes alternate. Rapid cycling is alternation of episodes when a person suffering from bipolar disorder have at least four manic or depressive episodes within a year. Increase in rapidity of cycling may lead to depression, substance abuse, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, etc. 

As per researchers, women suffering from bipolar disorder are more likely to undergo depressive episodes. While men experience mixed state of depression and mania. Generally, women are diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder which means they experience depression with hypomanic episodes. 

Women may experience severe bipolar disorder due to the hormonal changes. Studies suggest that women with bipolar disorder experiences more severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Also, women whose disorder is treated effectively shows less fluctuation in mood during their menstrual cycle. 

Risk Factors: 

Risk factors can be considered as the addition to causes which may elevate the occurrence of the disorder. Several risk factors are seen in both men and women which may be an adding point to cause or relapse bipolar disorder. Risk factors make be:

  • Having parents or siblings with bipolar disorder
  • Alcohol Abuse
  • Drug Abuse
  • Traumatic Experiences
  • Psychiatric problems from an early stage in life

In women, hormonal fluctuations can be caused due to menstruation, pregnancy, menopause, premenstrual syndrome, etc. This might result in increased risk of onset or relapse of bipolar disorder. 

Women with bipolar disorder are at high risk of having some other health related problems as well. Some of these problems may include alcoholism, thyroid, migraine, obesity, eating disorders which we also call as stress eating, etc. 

Effects of body behavior of women on Bipolar Disorder:

  • Pregnancy: Pregnancy and childbirth can trigger episodes of bipolar disorder in women, also known as postpartum episodes or postpartum depression. Childbirth raises the risk of episodes in women. Whereas, a father does not carry the same risk as a mother for mental illness. 

Causes for the same may include sleep disturbances, hormonal changes, changes in body, etc. after childbirth. 

  • Menstruation: The menstruation cycle may be a reason for women to develop various symptoms related to bipolar disorder. As the hormonal changes takes place in women’s body after childbirth, it may trigger bipolar episode. Menstruation cycle might make the symptoms even worse. 

Hormones release by the body during menstruation may alter the effect of lithium in the body which is a treatment element for bipolar disorder. And this may also result in reduction of the influence of the medication. 

Also, at the time of menopause that means at the age of around 45 to 55 years, women are more likely to develop bipolar disorder and experience depressive episodes. 

Suicidal tendencies: 

Women with bipolar disorder are more likely to commit suicide than men with the same condition. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry article published in 2015, women with bipolar disorder commits suicide 2 to 3 times more often than men with the same disorder. Suicide risk in women may be due to:

  • Mental illness from an early stage of life
  • Social problems
  • Psychiatric problems
  • Personality disorder along with the bipolar disorder
  • Depression and mania at the same time for long period of time 

As the causes and hormones are different in women than men, women with bipolar disorder may receive different treatment than men. Thus, the disorder might be the same in both men and women but the causes, treatment, effects, and risks might defer in both. 

Getting Care and Support:

Mental health is not a joke. It is a majorly serious as well as an important topic that we need to focus more on. It should not be considered shameful. If anybody feels suicidal, depressive, etc. talking to someone close may help. In order to deal with bipolar disorder, getting care and support is a basic but also major need. You should not be afraid or shameful of the same. Mental health is as important as physical health. 

Taking the help of a closed one can be taken as an option. If a person feels suicidal, they call a suicide helpline. Some of the helpline numbers are given below:

Jeevan Aastha Helpline: 1800 233 3330

AASRA: 09820466726

One Life Foundation: 7893078930

India: International Bipolar Foundation: +91 8888817666

All of these helplines are verified. Talk to someone but do not end your life. It is important.

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