A relapse in bipolar disorder is defined as suffering mania, depression, or a mixed episode after feeling relatively balanced. That isn’t always a sign that your treatment is no longer effective. Here’s how to recover and get back to normal.
If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder, you are well aware of the severe mood swings that can appear apparently out of nowhere. One day, you are on top of the world, feeling focused, energized, and pleased. But then something happens, and you feel depressed, sluggish, and maybe hopeless.
This melancholy state may linger for a while, but ultimately you return to baseline and a sense of calm and stability returns.
This asymptomatic state is known as euthymia, and the goal of treatment is to maintain euthymia for as long as possible. Regrettably, a bipolar relapse may occur, throwing you headfirst into the emotional spiral.
So, what exactly is a bipolar relapse, and how can you avoid one?
What Is a Bipolar Relapse?
A relapse, also known as a recurrence, is not specific to bipolar disorder. Several diseases may lead to relapses. The typical symptoms of mania or depression reappear with bipolar relapse, sometimes for weeks or months. Bipolar disorder needs lifelong treatment because of relapses.
How Common Is Bipolar Relapse?
Relapses in bipolar disorder are fairly common. Many studies have been done to determine the specific relapse rate, with varying degrees of success. In short, the longer you have bipolar disorder, the more likely you are to relapse.
On the other hand, sticking to your medicine and treatment plan reduces your chances of recurrence by spacing out episodes and providing you more time in the euthymic, stable state. One of the main goals of treatment is to keep bipolar disorder from relapsing.
The type of bipolar disorder you have will also influence how frequently you relapse. Those with bipolar 2 experience more episodes of depression and spend less time in the euthymic state than those with bipolar I. Cyclothymic disorder is characterized by recurring episodes lasting two or more years, albeit the symptoms are less severe than in bipolar I or 2.
At least four episodes of rapid-cycling bipolar disorder occur per year. Some people may have multiple episodes within a week or even within a single day.
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What Is The Duration?
The length of an episode following a bipolar relapse varies greatly from person to person. Mania or depression symptoms can last anywhere from one to two weeks to several months. Many factors, such as the type of bipolar disorder you have and whether you are receiving treatment, influence how long you suffer symptoms.
Manic episodes in patients with bipolar I illness who do not receive therapy can continue for at least a week, and possibly several months. Depressive episodes in these people typically last six months to a year.
Bipolar 2 disorder patients primarily have depressive episodes, with occasional periods of hypomania. Hypomania is a milder version of mania. According to professional recommendations, hypomanic episodes should continue for at least four days, but depressive bouts are generally longer.
What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Relapse?
The symptoms of a bipolar relapse vary depending on the type of bipolar disease you have and the sort of episode you are having. The strong mood swing periods associated with bipolar disorder are classified as manic, depressed, or mixed. Each has its own set of symptoms, and having “mixed characteristics” means having symptoms from more than one.
About Manic, Hypomanic, and Depressed Symptoms
Manic episodes can leave you feeling on top of the world. The following symptoms may occur during a manic episode:
- Elation (feeling fantastic) (feeling great)
- Extreme levels of activity
- Racing thoughts
- Rapid communication
- Sleep deprivation
- Feeling extraordinarily powerful or significant
Depressive episodes can bring you from the pinnacle to the bottom of the planet. A depressed episode may cause the following symptoms:
- Loneliness or isolation
- Low power
- Excessive sleeping
- Overeating or undereating
- Lack of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Death-related thoughts
Hypomania is merely a milder type of manic depression. If you have hypomania, you may feel terrific and motivated and may not realize anything is wrong, but your family and friends will likely notice mood swings and changes in your activity level. Hypomania is frequently followed by severe depression and, if left untreated, can progress to full-blown mania.
Pic: Bipolar Disorder
Preventing Bipolar Relapse
While bipolar disorder is a lifetime condition, there are things you can do to improve your quality of life and reduce your chances of recurrence.
- Maintain your treatment schedule. Take your prescribed medications, and be sure to show up for all of your regular therapy and medical visits. Do not stop receiving treatment without first consulting your doctor, even if you believe it isn’t working or is no longer necessary.
- Plan out your day. Bipolar episodes can be avoided by following a regular schedule for activities like eating and sleeping.
- Monitor your moods. Use an app or a diary to record your mood. This might assist you in determining whether you are in danger or are currently experiencing a relapse.
- Exercise. Exercise that is vigorous can assist with sadness and anxiety as well as improve sleep.
If you have been given a bipolar illness diagnosis, you will probably relapse at some point. Yet adopting the right actions now can aid in averting more incidents. The most crucial things you can do are follow your treatment plan and communicate openly and honestly with your medical professionals.