Bipolar Symptoms In Men: What To Watch For
Anyone can show signs of mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, but many times certain portions of the population go overlooked when it comes to identifying these symptoms. Men may experience symptoms differently due to biological, social, and personal factors that might not impact others the same way. Understanding how these differences might influence symptoms can help you learn to identify when it may be time to seek help, whether for yourself or someone you care about.
What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is a mental illnesses that typically causes a person to experience intense mood swings, usually between extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression). Though just about anyone can have mood swings, those that accompany bipolar disorder are unique in their severity and their ability to disrupt daily life.
A person living with bipolar disorder may experience mania or hypomania during high points, which can lead to feelings of euphoria, heightened energy levels, and personality changes, among other things. When this phase is over, the next stage is typically depression. People may experience feelings of intense sadness, numbers, or lose interest in the activities that they usually enjoy. These constant shifts in mood can happen unexpectedly and usually interrupt normal life functions like sleep, concentration, and behavior.
Types Of Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar I disorder - Diagnosis of this type are for people that experience depressive episodes that last for at least two weeks and manic episodes that continue for at least a week. It's also possible for people to experience episodes with mixed symptoms of depression and mania.
Bipolar II disorder - People with bipolar II disorder have depressive and manic episodes but generally not to the extreme levels of bipolar I disorder.
Cyclothymic disorder or Cyclothymia - People in this group experience shifts in mood over the course of several years, but they do not meet the requirements and severity of bipolar I or II.
Unspecified bipolar and related disorders - This diagnosis is for people that experience symptoms of bipolar that don't meet the requirements of the other diagnoses.
Bipolar Symptoms In Men
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, bipolar disorder can affect anyone regardless of their sex at about the same rate. Overall, around 2.6% of the U.S. population lives with some type of bipolar disorder, and around 83% of cases identified are classified as “severe.” Despite the fact that bipolar disorder may impact nearly all people to the same extent, there are oftentimes differences in the way symptoms manifest themselves between people of different backgrounds. This may lead to discrepancies in the number of people who receive the diagnoses they may need.
The average age of onset of the disorder typically appears around the age of 25. However, it often occurs earlier in life for men Those within this group may also be more likely to experience symptoms of manic episodes than others.
Likewise, many men may be more likely to show aggression when they are having a manic episode. This phenomenon is true for many mental health disorders; irritability, lashing out at others, and similar behaviors are generally more common for men. Many people don't connect aggression with these diagnoses, which can make it harder to receive appropriate support.
A final significant difference is how frequently symptoms occur. Women tend to experience more regular symptoms, but those who are may live with more intense, severe symptoms that reveal themselves sporadically. Overall, facts like these often mean that many people are not aware of the ways their symptoms may relate to their mental health. This can be a significant obstacle that limits a person’s ability to seek help professionally and from others in their life.
Men Are Typically Less Likely To Seek Help
Research suggests that, on the whole, men are less likely to receive treatment. This is true of all mental health disorders, but it can have severe consequences.
Those who don’t seek help, for instance, may be more likely to experience trouble at work, in relationships, or in their personal lives. They may be more prone to developing other mental health symptoms, turn to substances to manage their symptoms, or otherwise seek out alternative ways to live with their experiences.
Bipolar Symptoms For Men: Treatment Options
There are multiple forms of treatment that you can use to treat bipolar disorder. The same treatment might not be the right one for everyone, but there are many people that can experience relief after finding the right combination of treatment options. The key is likely trying different things until you find what works the best for you. Some forms of treatment include:
There are different types of medication that can work to treat bipolar disorder. These include antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medication, among others. Medication can help you to gain control over your symptoms while you work on using other forms of treatment to develop strategies and skills to help you manage bipolar disorder in the long term.
Some may find that they respond well to medication and others may find that they prefer to focus on another form of treatment. Talking with a medical professional is perhaps the best way to determine what type of medication is going to be the best for you to try. Once you are taking medication, it can be important that you monitor how you are responding both physically and mentally. Communicating about what works and what doesn’t with your doctor or psychiatrist can help you find a solution that fits your needs.
When it comes to bipolar disorder, three forms of therapy seem to generally be the most effective. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), social rhythm therapy, and family-focused therapy.
CBT is a form of therapy that can help you to learn the connection between your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. This form of therapy may show you how to identify negative thought patterns in your life and understand how they might impact your behavior. When you learn to recognize the thoughts, you can replace them with positive ones.
Social rhythm therapy is often combined with interpersonal therapy. They work together to address the different areas of your life that may be impacted by bipolar disorder. Interpersonal therapy works to address the problems that you have within the close relationships within your life, while social rhythm therapy focuses on other areas of life that can be impacted by your symptoms. This includes things like diet, exercise, sleep habits, and more. Tackling these goals can help you learn to avoid triggers, set yourself up for success, and begin to heal from some of the challenges that may contribute to your symptoms.
Family-focused therapy works to provide a person’s entire family with resources and tools for managing bipolar disorder symptoms. Because the disorder can impact others around you as well as yourself, it can be helpful for everyone to understand what you’re experiencing and how to best support you.
Regardless of which type of therapy you mesh well with, you may be able to benefit from online therapy options. Working with a therapist online can help save you time, money, and stress, as there’s no need to drive to an in-person office (or even leave your home!) to receive the professional care you may need.
You can rest assured that the quality of the treatment you receive won’t necessarily be impacted by its format, too. Research suggests that online therapy options can be beneficial for many mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder. In fact, one recent review of several studies on smartphone-based and online treatment for bipolar disorder found that both options could help patients manage their symptoms effectively. Making treatment as reachable and easy as possible may help you stay consistent and motivated as time goes on.
Bipolar disorder can affect anyone, but it often isn’t recognized equally between different groups of people, particularly among men. However, treatment for symptoms, despite how successful it can be, is generally only available once you’ve taken the steps to seek help. That’s why learning to identify potential symptoms and how they can differ from those of others may be vital; your experience can be different, but that doesn’t mean it has to be less valid.
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