Bipolar disorder may cause irritability

Definition and description of the symptoms

Bipolar disorder is characterized by extreme fluctuations in mood, activity, and drive.

People who suffer from bipolar disorder experience phases of happiness and euphoria in which they feel full of creativity and drive. Not only does the person feel as if they could "tear up trees" in terms of strength, they are also convinced that they are capable of anything, bursting with self-confidence and great ideas, thinking is experienced as accelerated overall.

She needs little or no sleep at all, is constantly "on the move" and no longer thinks about the possible negative consequences of risky behavior.

Excessive alcohol and drug consumption, high debt due to grandiose investments and purchases or infections as a result of unprotected sexual intercourse with several sexual partners are not uncommon.

In contact, the person can appear very inattentive and absent-minded, and there is often an enormous urge to talk.

Another variant is that the person concerned is less euphoric, but unusually irritable. For example, he can suddenly get into violent arguments with other people, including strangers, and become aggressive towards them.

These so-called manic phases are one pole of fluctuations.

On the other hand, people with bipolar disorder also experience phases of deep sadness and despair as well as severe lack of drive and even incapacity to act.

These depressive phases in the context of bipolar disorder can be accompanied by suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. Affected people feel permanently depressed or sad for a long period of time, although this mood is often perceived as different from previously known depression. Sometimes a "feeling of numbness" can also be lamented, which is described as an agonizing experience of inner emptiness.

In addition, people in a depressed phase often lose interest in events and activities that they previously found pleasant and that they enjoyed doing. Even with positive experiences, the depressed mood cannot be overcome, hobbies and other regular activities are increasingly reduced or completely stopped.

In depressive phases, many sufferers feel permanently tired, exhausted and lacking motivation, so that even the smallest tasks are experienced as excessively strenuous - in some severe cases this leads to the fact that those affected are no longer able to get out of bed in the morning.

In addition, a depressive episode can lead to a loss of self-confidence and reduced self-esteem. The ability to concentrate can be restricted by constant brooding and negative thoughts, as can the ability to remember and make decisions.

It is not uncommon for people to suffer from strong and exaggerated feelings of guilt and feelings of worthlessness and worthlessness during depressive episodes

Inadequacy. Frequent is both personal past as well

Present and future viewed pessimistically and negatively, so that feelings of hopelessness and resignation can arise.

Restlessness or slowing down, sleep and appetite disorders as well as reduced or absent sexual desire can also occur.

Often both manic and depressive phases last for weeks or months and repeat themselves several times in life, whereby between the phases there is usually a balance of mood and activity level that corresponds to what those affected consider to be the "normal state" before the first manic or describe the depressive phase.

However, phases of depression and euphoria or irritability are not so clearly separated from each other for all those affected. In some patients, the change takes place more quickly, the individual phases only last days or even just a few hours before they are replaced by the other extreme feeling.

Backgrounds of origin

According to current knowledge, genetic factors play an essential role in the development of bipolar disorders. Psychosocial strain, stress, lifestyle and everyday life can, however, have a significant impact on the course of the disease.

For example, in people with symptoms of bipolar disorder, changes in the balance of certain messenger substances in the brain, so-called neurotransmitters that carry nerve impulses, are observed.

Today it is assumed that these changes in the messenger substance balance contribute to the development of manic or depressive symptoms. This thesis is supported by the fact that the symptoms usually respond well to drugs that affect neurotransmitter levels.

If such genetic-biological factors are present, a restless lifestyle with an irregular sleep-wake rhythm, a lot of stress or abuse of alcohol or drugs, but also stressful living conditions or serious - stressful or simply exciting - events can trigger the symptoms.

Therapy options

Therefore, according to the current state of research, bipolar disorders are most successfully treated in combination, which means that psychotherapy to stabilize lifestyle habits, learn stress management and relaxation strategies as well as other individually determined protective factors should complement the necessary drug therapy to stabilize mood.

Book recommendations on the topic

Geislinger, R. & Grunze, H. (2005). Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive

Diseases). Advice for those affected and their relatives. BOD: Norderstedt.

ISBN: 978-3-8311-4519-5.

Bräunig, P. & Wagner, P. (2003). Between the poles of mania and depression -

Psychoeducation in bipolar illness. A guide for those affected and

Relatives. BOD: Norderstedt.

ISBN: 978-3-8334-0749-9.

Information and networks online

German Society for Bipolar Disorders DGBS e.V.