Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness is a mental condition that occurs in episodes. This mental disorder causes unusual mood swings along with varying energy and activity levels. The shifts in mood range from depressive lows to manic highs. Depressive phases generally include symptoms such as low energy and lack of interest in routine activities. On the other hand, during manic phases patient is fully energized with a reduced need for sleep and loss of touch with reality. These mood episodes may last for a couple of days or months and in extreme cases might be associated with suicidal thoughts.
Bipolar Disorder and Suicide
An individual who is suffering from bipolar disorder is at high risk for suicide. According to reports of the National Mental Health Association, around 40%-80% of suicide victims are cases of one or another form of depression. Also, the suicidal ratio of males is three times that of females. There are certain risk factors for suicide which include:
- Family history of mental disorders
- Any previous attempts for suicide
- Family history of physical or sexual abuse
- Any friend or closed relative who have attempted suicide
- Having a firearm in the home
Symptoms of Suicide
If anyone in your friends or family members has a risk of suicide, make sure you do not leave him or her alone. In the first place, you need to seek the help of a health care professional as early as possible. Some of the signs of suicide may be as listed:
- An individually often talks about suicide before attempting
- Always having thought of death in mind
- Having an attitude of being hopeless and worthless
- Always depressed and claiming that their absence would make things better
- Sudden mood swings from being very sad to being calm and happy
- Having a death wish
- Lack of interest in things one used to care for
- Giving away personal belongings
- Worsening of sleep pattern or not sleeping at all
- Being restless or agitated
- Abusing drugs or alcohol
- Getting involved in dangerous or life-threatening activities
People who have bipolar disorder often undergo phases that include extreme sadness, anxious or confusion. When these emotions get intensified, the individual may find it difficult coping up and lead to acts of self-injury. Harming oneself is usually done by cutting or making an injurious attempt to overcome negative emotions such as extreme anger, anxiety, and frustration. Such episodes may occur in case when someone is suffering from mental health along with bipolar disorder. The episodes of self-harm may be frequently observed and at any time. Therefore, the patient should be handled with extreme care and attention 24 X 7.
Causes of Suicide
Some situational indicators may creep in suicidal thoughts in an individual’s mind. These may include:
- Death of someone special
- Loss of relationship due to separation or rejection
- Lack of financial security
- Diagnosis of some serious illness
- Change in looks
- Loss of employment
- Loss of self-esteem
- Emotional, physical or sexual abuse
Preventive Steps for Suicide
At times, bipolar disorder patients due to stigma, shame or guilt refrain to talk to their loved ones or psychiatrist about what ill-thoughts are making a home in their minds. To overcome, adopt any of the following:
- Create a suicide safety plan: Work together with someone trustworthy, your friend or a family member and develop a suicide safety plan. The plan should make you recall warning signs as well as the risk factors that include the situations, images, thoughts and feelings that bring suicidal urges within you. Secondly, there should be a list of activities to calm and comfort you. Breathing exercises or body scan meditation can be helpful. Pen down the reasons for your living. When in distress or feeling suicidal, refocus your attention on these points until your suicidal thoughts go away. Also, create a list of all professional resources available for you along with their contact numbers and other personal information.
- Consult a psychotherapist: Psychotherapy is a process in which the patient, couple or family meets a mental health professional to discuss all the problems faced by the patient. Thereafter, the psychotherapist takes counseling sessions to help the patient with coping skills. Also, behavior therapy can help you learn how to deal with emotional distress.
The treatment for Bipolar disorder is life-long. However, there are few ways to keep it managed which include:
- Consult your doctor and get regular mental health checkups done. Also, take prescribed bipolar medications regularly.
- Stay away from alcohol and drugs that may trigger mood swings.
- Join a support group and stay in touch with your family and friends.