Youth Ambassador Series: Exploring Different Mental Health Disorders – Bipolar Disorder

As part of NAMI Eastside’s Youth Ambassador program, Jinwoo “Antonio” Lee is exploring the eight different mental health disorders defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).


About Bipolar Disorder

By NAMI Eastside Youth Ambassador Jinwoo Antonio Lee

What makes you upset? When are you upset? Are you confident in how to relieve yourself when you are feeling down? Some people undergo high mood swings, and they don’t know how to control themselves from it. If one has this experience, it could be a mental illness disorder and need medical treatment. Moreover, this disorder might occur sporadically– once a month or multiple times yearly. Continuing from the first post, today, I would like to introduce another mental illness called bipolar disorder.

What are the types of bipolar disorder, and how are they different in symptoms? The main symptom of bipolar disorder, regardless of its type, is mania, which is a condition when your moods are highly swinging, elevating and descending energy levels in your body. There are two main types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I and bipolar II. Firstly, bipolar I is a common type, and episodes of mania last more than a week. The depression level in bipolar I is generally lower than in other types, and some people don’t have any depression. The main symptoms are euphoria with a highly energetic level and talking quickly. This does not mean that a high energy level is helpful to our body. After the euphoria, most people undergo emotional crashes, which further lead to the destruction of relationships (economic, social, etc.) Bipolar II occurs with mania that lasts at least four days. The depression level is higher than bipolar I and is mainly focused on one episode of depression. The primary symptoms of bipolar II are hopelessness, fatigue, and anxiety.

What are the causes of bipolar disorder? Although there aren’t any direct causes of bipolar disorder, bipolar disorder can be caused by the interaction of biopsychosocial causes: biological, psychological, and socio-cultural causes. The biological predisposition can be attributed to bipolar disorder, especially in the brain. A few scientists have researched and predicted that if one has an abnormality in the frontal lobe, then one would likely have bipolar disorder. This disorder is also heritable, and genetic causes can also be attributed to this disorder. In addition, either psychological or social causes such as childhood trauma or stressful life events from one’s social position can also cause high mood swings. 

How can we treat bipolar disorder in advance? There aren’t any specific vaccines or ways to avoid it directly. However, as I explained in the last post about how to treat anxiety disorder, a healthy living routine is helpful. Exercising regularly will help your brain health and enhance your potential abilities. It is essential to cope with things that make you depressed. It can be helpful to seek professional help to learn what coping skills work best for you. When confronting these episodes, consider it positively and take a deep breath.

How can we get help when we experience bipolar disorder? It is hard to perceive that you have bipolar disorder because people usually don’t recognize how much emotional instability would interfere with their lives. Therefore, dealing with hardships in your life is essential. As I advised in a previous article, find someone near you to discuss your feelings. Share your experiences from your episodes, and people will empathize with you. If you have further troubles, find a doctor or psychiatrist near you and get proper medical treatment. Early treatment can effectively prevent further emotional damage. Don’t hesitate to get help!