Bipolar Disorder Following a Brain Injury

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October 13, 2019
Edward Smith

Brain Injury Can Cause Bipolar Disorder

There are numerous mental health issues that might arise following a traumatic brain injury, and one of these is called bipolar disorder. This disorder falls under a category called mood disorders. There have been many research studies done regarding mood disorders following a brain injury. One research study which was published by the Psychiatric Clinics of North America estimated that up to 50 percent of people who suffer a brain injury will develop some form of mood disorder in the first year. In addition, up to two-thirds of these people will develop a mood disorder at some point during their life.

Because of this, it is important for everyone to familiarize themselves with these mood disorders. Many of them, such as bipolar disorder, can have a dramatic impact on someone’s overall quality of life. When it comes to this mood disorder, there are several important points that everyone should know.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a problem with someone’s emotions and moods that has also been referred to as manic-depressive illness. In this disorder, problems with the wiring of the neurons in the brain lead to dramatic, rapid, and unusual shifts in mood. This makes it hard for people to carry out their tasks on a day to day basis.

While there are many different types of bipolar disorder, all of them involve fluctuations between extreme happiness, called mania (or “up”), and times of sadness, called depression (or “down”). Some people can have these oscillations over periods of several days. Other people might feel these swings in periods of a few hours. The degree to which people experience these “ups” and “downs” might also vary. Because of this, the disorder can present itself in a variety of ways.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of this Disorder?

One of the challenges of diagnosing bipolar disorder is that the signs and symptoms are going to vary depending on whether someone is having a manic episode or a depressive episode. It is important to know the symptoms of both. Some of the signs of a manic episode include:

  • Feeling like someone is “on top of the world.”
  • Having the ability to go several days in a row without sleeping due to extreme energy
  • Talking much more quickly than unusual
  • Engaging in extremely risky activities such as spending large amounts of money in a short time, driving at excessive speeds, or doing large amounts of recreational drugs

When someone’s mood cycles in the opposite direction, they will experience a depressive episode. Some of the signs of a depressive episode include:

  • Feeling down or hopeless
  • Lacking energy to the point that it is hard to get out of bed in the morning
  • Problems with a typical sleep cycle such as sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping at night
  • The inability to enjoy activities that used to bring joy
  • Difficulty concentrating on simple tasks
  • Extreme changes in appetite (either eating too much or not eating at all)

The hallmark of bipolar disorder is that people fluctuate between these two extreme mood states. Some people will fluctuate between these two states more quickly than others.

The Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder

When someone has suffered a brain injury, the neurons within the central nervous system have been damaged. As a result, the neurotransmitters that control someone’s mood are going to become altered. The changes in the levels of these neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, can impact someone’s mood. This may be a contributing factor in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Once a mental health professional has made the diagnosis, there are a few treatment options available. Ultimately, the treatment of this disorder is going to be comprehensive in nature. This includes counseling and medication. Some of the medications that might be prescribed include mood stabilizers (such as lithium), SSRIs (such as Fluoxetine), and antipsychotics (such as Quetiapine). When these medications are combined with effective counseling techniques, bipolar disorder can be controlled. This will result in an improved overall quality of life.

San Francisco Brain Injury Lawyer

I’m Ed Smith, a San Francisco brain injury lawyer. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental health problem that might manifest following a brain injury. Should you or a family member suffer a TBI in a major accident due to the negligence of another person or entity, call me at (415) 805-7284 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly advice.

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