Becoming a mother is one of the greatest and the most amazing feelings in the world for a woman. Her life turns upside down in a blink of an eye and everything starts to make sense for them. Every action of her will direct towards the baby’s life and wellbeing and her entire world will start to spin around the small human being that is growing inside of her.
But what about women who suffer from bipolar disorder?
Can the feeling of becoming a mother change the way they view their lives from now on?
Can pregnancy help them recover and see the world in brand new colors?
Will these women have the strength and the right mindset to raise their children well?
How does pregnancy change a woman with a bipolar disorder?
Is the pregnancy a benefit for them or a punishment?
A study that started at the Otario Mental Health Foundations concluded that the pregnancy could actually have a benefic and positive effect on women who suffer from bipolar disorder.
What is the bipolar disorder? It is a mental illness that is recognizable by some of the most extreme shifts in mood. The mood swings change from depression to mania and the other way around. Bipolar disorder is also called a bipolar disease or a maniac depression.
For this kind of mental illness, there is no available cure, but there are many drugs and treatments that people can take in order to manage with the symptoms.
So, could pregnancy act like a “treatment” for women who suffer from bipolar disorder?
We will find out in a moment, after we talk more about the symptoms of this mental illness. Bipolar disorder symptoms:
- Emotional mania episodes include: feeling impulsive, excited, full of energy, euphoric .
- Emotional mania behavior includes: drug usage, unprotected sex, spending sprees.
- Emotional low episodes or depression include: feelings of hopelessness, loss of energy, deep sadness, the lack of interest regarding activities they once enjoyed, periods of too little sleep as much as period with too much sleep, suicidal thoughts.
There are several types of bipolar disorder that can affect a pregnant or non-pregnant woman, four to be more precise. These stages are:
bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia and rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. In the following lines, we’ll tell you more about all of these bipolar disorder types.
Bipolar I type: it can be defined by the appearance of one maniac episode, at least. The woman or person may feel hypomaniac or may fall into major depressive episodes, before and even after the maniac episode.
Bipolar II type: it can be defined by one major depressive episode that can last for at least 2 weeks, which is a worrying thing. These persons can also have one hypomaniac episode at least, that can usually last up until four days.
Cyclothymia: it can be defined by people having both episodes of hypomania and depression. The symptoms of the cyclothymia are shorter as a duration period and a little less severe than the episodes of maniac and major depressive situations, but they can also fluctuate frequently. In most people, they only have a month or two of stable moods and then they get back to experiencing this type of bipolar disorder’s symptoms.
Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder: it can be defined by the faster changes that can affect the person’s mood. These changes are faster than in any bipolar disorder types. A person that has a rapid-cycling bipolar disorder can have at least four (sometimes even more) episodes of mania, major depression, hypomania and any other mixed symptoms, all within a year.
The bipolar disorder can be treated with some available treatments that can only help a person to manage with all the symptoms of this illness. The treatments frequently include counseling, medication and lifestyle changes. The medication that a person with a bipolar disorder can use is the following:
-Lithium, which is a mood stabilizer
–Olanzapine, which is a antipsychotic
-Fluoxetine-olanzapine, which is a antidepressant-antipsychotic
-Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, which is a type of medication for the antianxiety and this can only be used for a short period of time in people that suffer from bipolar disorder
The psychotherapy treatments that are recommended for the bipolar disorder persons include:
-Cognitive behavioral therapy
-Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
Other kinds of treatments such as: electroconvulsive therapy, sleep medications, supplements, acupuncture.
Recommended lifestyle changes:
-Routine when sleeping and eating
-Learn how to recognize the mood swings
-Ask for support treatment from friends and relatives
-Talk to a doctor
Regarding the study mentioned above, conducted on the idea if the pregnancy is a beneficial effect for a woman that has a bipolar disorder, the team has investigated deeply into the specialty literature and discovered that the symptoms of a bipolar depression include: hypomania and mania, depression, association with suicide attempts, infanticide and a very high risk of psychiatric hospitalization in the postpartum period.
Having a bipolar disorder is a very dangerous thing in the child-bearing period, both for the mother and for the child. However, these recent studies suggest that pregnancy can have some sort of control over the mother’s disease in the period of the child-bearing. The study from the Otanrio Mental Health found out that during the pregnancy period, women that are type II on the bipolar disorder were rare or in remission, and that when women are pregnant and have been previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder, they happen to have fewer or shorter episodes in this period.
So, we can draw the conclusion that the pregnancy affects bipolar disorder women in a more positive way, acting like a kind of special treatment in this situation, helping them to recover from all the negative moods and swifts in moods that they used to have. What’s more, in case of any other mood disorders, pregnant women are less susceptible of developing them rather that women who are not pregnant.
A more important and concerning subject is the wrongly diagnosed women. They are frequently misdiagnosed as having a mere depression and they are prescribed with antidepressants as a treatment, which can worsen the symptoms in some cases.
So, yes, this is a great and good news for women who suffer from bipolar disorders – the pregnancy clearly helps them to return on the good path, lowering the frequency of their maniac or depressing episodes and keeping them on some sort of balance that can help them see the light at the end of the tunnel. As I’ve said in the beginning of this article, becoming a mother can completely turn your life upside down – in a good way! Even for the women that suffer from bipolar disorder!
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