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Bipolar disorder is a type of mood disorder that is widespread across the world and is particularly prevalent in the American society and the developed countries. It is often referred to as bipolar depression or manic depression. However, bipolar disorder is a lot different from depression and its various forms. In addition, the diagnostic methods and treatments of bipolar disorder are also different from any form of depression.

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It is known fact that women are more vulnerable to bipolar disorder due to the constant hormonal changes in their body. Also, unlike men women are more likely to reveal mood disorders and get the adequate treatment.

On the other hand, men are more likely to take medications to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder than show the emotional vulnerability and instability that forms a part of bipolar disorder. Therefore, the rate of men being diagnosed with bipolar disorder is far less than the actual number of men who may be afflicted by the disorder.

Men who are afflicted with bipolar disorder tend to have varying moods that oscillate between elevated levels of euphoria which is termed as mania and melancholia which brings in a state of extreme sadness and depression.

When such alternating moods no longer remain a temporary phenomenon but become chronic over a period of many months, then the affected men can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It is a very serious condition, because the daily life and its activities along with relationships, work, etc can be severely affected by the onset of bipolar disorder in men.

Symptoms of bipolar disorder in men

There are many stages to bipolar disorder in men which may constantly alternate from one to another with varied signs and symptoms. The stages are mania, depression, mixed episodes, rapid cycling and seasonal pattern of bipolar disorder.

The signs and symptoms of the manic stage are listed below:

  • Men may have beliefs about one’s own abilities and talents that are unrealistic in addition to a sense of grandiosity
  • Men may have insufficient sleep. Despite the lack of sleep, they seem to have boundless levels of energy
  • Men may have exaggerated sense of self-worth and optimism which may result in increased levels of goal-oriented activities
  • Men may have a high rate of speech which can sometimes make them incomprehensible to others
  • Men may be constantly restless with excessive impulsivity and poor judgment.
  • One particular thought may not hold the attention of men and they may jump from one thought process to another.
  • Men can become easily distractible with diminished capabilities to concentrate
  • Some extreme cases of bipolar disorder in men can lead to hallucinations and delusions
  • Men may engage in several reckless activities such as rash driving, sexual promiscuity as well as reckless expenses such as alcoholic binges

The signs and symptoms of the depressive stage are as follows:

  • The most common symptom is a sense of hopelessness and extreme sadness
  • Men may experience extreme fatigue with decreased levels of energy as well as a sense of chronic tiredness.
  • Men may find it very difficult to make decisions, may be increasingly inattentive which may be accompanied by memory loss and forgetfulness.
  • The depressive phase may bring along a general loss of interest or enthusiasm in the activities of daily life
  • Men may have diminished libido or the sex drive may be absent
  • Emptiness, loneliness and worries tend to consume a majority of the ‘awake’ time
  • Men may experience changes in weight that generally tend to result from irregular sleeping pattern and eating habits.
  • Men may have repetitive thoughts about suicide or one’s own death

Mixed episodes in men may elicit the below mentioned signs and symptoms:

  • Elevated levels of irritability
  • Increased levels of visible hostility
  • Excessive levels of rage and aggression
  • Increased proneness to physical aggression and violence

Rapid cycling may show symptoms which include:

  • Men who have four or more episodes of depression, mixed episodes, hypomania and mania over a period of twelve months can be diagnosed with bipolar disorder which is termed as rapid cycling bipolar disorder

In the seasonal pattern to bipolar disorder:

  • Men may experience a change in mood as a result of the changes in season. The episodes of depression and mania change as per the seasonal pattern and therefore this stage or form of bipolar disorder is termed as seasonal affective bipolar disorder.

Causes of bipolar disorder in men

  • Any imbalance in the secretion of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin may lead to depressive and manic episodes.
  • Head injuries, death of a loved one or presence of terminal illnesses increase the susceptibility to bipolar disorder.
  • Bipolar disorder has genetic causes and hence tends to run in families

Treatment of bipolar disorder in men

  • Neuroleptics, antipsychotics and stabilizers are used to treat mania and mixed episodes
  • Antidepressants are used to treat the depressive symptoms
  • Family therapy, psycho-education, group therapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy may be used to coach men about the causes and symptoms as well as for behavior modification
  • In extreme cases of bipolar disorder ECT may be used as a treatment procedure
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