Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Symptoms in Men: What to Look For

Table of Content

Mental health problems have been present since the dawn of time, but they got people’s attention only in the recent past. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated awareness and acceptance due to the stress and isolation many of us experienced.  

Bipolar disorder is one of the major mental health conditions that has affected many lives, to be precise 46 million. Out of these 46 million, approximately 48% is male population. Today, in this article, we specifically talk about these 48% of the male population. We will also discuss the bipolar disorder symptoms in men.  

Understanding the Spectrum of Bipolar Disorder in Men 

Bipolar disorder is a very complex mental health condition. Unlike depression, it causes extreme mood swings that switch back and forth from emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). Though women are more susceptible to bipolar disorder, men are more likely to experience the disorder at an early age. Studies also suggest that men tend to be more aggressive, have more chances of mania symptoms, and have lower rates of appetite change. Hence, it is important to recognize these indications and take effective treatment at the earliest.  

Characteristics of Bipolar Disorder in Men 

In men, the traits of bipolar disorder are a little different from those of women. Here are a few differences that are more notable in men. 

Onset Age and Episode Frequency 

Men are more susceptible to an early age onset of bipolar disorder than women. Here’s the age-wise data that supports the claim.  

  • Males aged (13-18): 2.6% 
  • Males aged (18- 29): 4.7% 
  • Males aged (30- 44): 3.5%  
  • Males aged (45- 59): 2.2% 
  • Males aged (60<): 1% 

As far as episode frequency is concerned, males tend to have less depressive and more mania episodes than women. 

Prevalence of Bipolar II Disorder 

Bipolar Ⅱ is a type of bipolar disorder with features like depression and mood swings but unlike bipolar Ⅰ, it is less extreme and more prevalent in women than men. Due to this, men with bipolar disorder experience fewer depressive episodes. 

Comorbidity and Substance Use  

The simultaneous presence of two or more conditions, such as psychiatric and medical disorders, are far fewer in men than in women. However, substance abuse and the presence of bipolar disorder are far more frequent in men in comparison to women. 

Key Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in Men 

People with bipolar disorder experience intense emotional states, and these emotions are personified in different ways in both men and women. Here are the key symptoms of bipolar disorder in men. 

Emotional Highs: Mania and Hypomania 

As mentioned in one of the sections above, men experience more extreme episodes of mania than women and these are characterized by high energy, aggression, lack of sleep, etc. Moreover, the mania stage in individuals can last from multiple days to months. Some of the common bipolar symptoms in men of the mania phase are: - 

  • Poor judgement 
  • Intense happiness  
  • Quick to anger 
  • Uncontrolled and rapid thoughts 
  • Recklessness 
  • Violent behavior 

Emotional Lows: Depression 

During the emotional low phase, men tend to show excessive irate and irritation compared to women. Moreover, it is quite difficult to diagnose bipolar depression and unipolar depression due to the similarity in symptoms, especially during hypomanic episodes, as these are milder and less noticeable. Here are a few common symptoms of bipolar depression. 

  • Substance abuse 
  • Feeling sad/ hopelessness 
  • Difficult to concentrate 
  • Anxiety
  • Self-harm thoughts 
  • Hypersomnia 
  • Disordered eating 

Risk-Taking and Impulsivity 

Individuals with bipolar disorder usually show increased impulsivity and risk-taking behavior, particularly during manic or hypomanic episodes. This behavior can be seen through their conduct, such as reckless spending, substance abuse, etc.  

Sleep Patterns and Energy Levels 

Sleep disruption is a common symptom of bipolar disorder in men. During the episodes of mania, people usually don’t feel the need for sleep. However, it is entirely the opposite when the same person experiences bipolar depression. They may encounter sleep disorders like insomnia or hypersomnia. 

Cognitive Symptoms: Focus and Decision-Making 

Deficits in cognitive functions are commonly seen in people with bipolar disorder, which significantly affects their focus and decision-making skills. These symptoms can be seen in various ways, such as attention deficits, cognitive fatigue, racing thoughts, poor judgment, difficulty in planning, etc. 

The Impact of Bipolar Disorder on Men's Life 

The presence of bipolar disorder in men can affect their life’s various aspects, which include but aren’t limited to: - 

Relationships and Social Life 

In a relationship, it is natural to experience ups and downs; however, being in a relationship with someone having bipolar disorder is different. Due to its unpredictable nature, it impacts social and personal life. Episodes of mania and hypomania make communication difficult, while episodes of depression cause isolation and strained relationships. 

Work and Productivity 

Some of the symptoms of bipolar disorder are a lack of concentration, time management, emotional control, anxiety, stress management, and planning. All these symptoms are fundamental aspects of work culture and productivity. This makes it hard for people with bipolar disorder to work.  However, this may not be the case for every person with bipolar disorder. 

Physical Health and Well-being 

As we know, mental and physical health are deeply intertwined; any impact on mental health can significantly influence your physical health. The episodes of mania can cause sleep disruption and appetite change, while bipolar depression can cause demotivation, which leads to physical inactivity. Other unhealthy choices caused by the disorder can lead to many other health problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, etc. 

Financial Stress 

Manic and hypomanic are two characteristics of bipolar disorder, and when a person is manic or hypomanic, they tend to show symptoms like grandiosity. For example, they engage in uncontrolled buying sprees, gambling, and compulsive spending, which cause financial stress to the patient and their caregivers.  

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder Symptoms in Men 

Interpreting bipolar disorder in men can be challenging due to the possible atypical symptoms. Traditional indications of mania, like high bliss and grandiosity, may be less common in men, who may instead show irritability, anger, and risky behavior. 

Moreover, societal expectations often portray men as strong who can control their emotions, making it hard for men to openly discuss their mental health problems. The situation sometimes leads to self-medication with substance abuse, further masking symptoms. For accurate diagnosis, mental health professionals generally use detailed history (family and individual), mood assessment tools, substance use angle, etc. 

The Hesitancy Among Men to Pursue Mental Health Support 

Whether in a historical, cultural, or media entertainment context, men are often portrayed as strong and capable of tolerating pain and controlling emotions. This has created a taboo around men who seek help, especially in the case of mental health. One other reason for hesitancy is the stigma attached to mental illness itself. Besides, an atypical exhibit of symptoms in some mental health conditions like depression may lead to further delay in diagnosis.  

Treatment Options and Management Strategies 

While there is no cure for bipolar disorder, there are ways one can manage its symptoms and implement strategies to reduce its impacts. Here are some of the treatment options for bipolar disorder. 

Prescription Medication 

Medications such as antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotic medication help in preventing mood swings, psychotic symptoms, suicidal thoughts, etc. Most people manage bipolar disorder by combining medication with other treatments, but again, it depends on individual needs and preferences. 

Psychotherapy 

Psychotherapy is an integral part of bipolar disorder treatment. It is also called talk therapy, where the person discusses his/her feelings, thoughts, and behaviors causing problems. There are different types of therapy under psychotherapy, and these are:- 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy 

In CBT, mental health professionals help you understand the connection between your thoughts and emotions and how they influence your behavior. They teach you how to recognize negative or harmful thoughts and how to substitute them with positive thoughts. 

Social Rhythm Therapy 

Social rhythm therapy is based on the concept that any changes in our daily routine can prompt mood outbreaks, especially in individuals with mental health conditions. The therapy aims to minimize the impacts of changes in daily routine. The therapy is often used with interpersonal therapy to address issues in relationships that may be occurring due to bipolar disorder. 

Family-Focused therapy 

FFT is a science-based psycho-educational therapy for people with the disorder and their families and caretakers. The therapy aims to reduce mood symptoms, prevent relapse, and improve psychosocial functioning in people with bipolar disorder. Some other aspects of FFT are teaching family members about the symptoms of bipolar disorder and helping them learn coping skills to manage these symptoms, along with communication enhancement training. 

Lifestyle Changes and Coping Mechanisms 

By making a few healthy lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, sleep hygiene, maintaining routines, and developing healthy hobbies like reading, gardening, playing chess, etc., can greatly influence your recovery. You can also develop coping mechanisms by performing relaxation techniques like mindfulness, deep breathing, yoga, meditation, and journaling. 

Support Systems: Family and Professional Help 

Support is something that we all have sought many times in our lives, from education to career, from young to old age, and in many other aspects. Mental illness is no different. In fact, with the right support, it becomes a lot easier for people to walk through the rough stages of mental health. A support system may come from your own family, a community, an online group, or professionals. It is a space to convey thoughts, feelings, emotions, knowledge, etc., with like-minded people who genuinely want to see you improve and recover. If you or anyone you know needs support, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional.

Empowering Recovery: Bipolar Disorder Management with Cadabams 

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental condition, but it can be managed with the right strategies and treatments. A place where you can find both these aspects is Cadabams. Cadabams is an institution that has been addressing mental health issues like bipolar disorder for the past three decades, with many individuals already reintegrated back into society. Their happy faces are a testament to our dedication and effort to bring the best possible treatments that can improve the quality of their lives and bring many positive changes. So, don’t delay the help your mental health needs any further, and book an appointment with Cadabams for a brighter and happier life. 

 

FAQs 

1. What are the key symptoms of bipolar disorder in men? 

Key symptoms of bipolar disorder in men include mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs, changes in energy levels, fluctuations in sleep patterns, impulsivity, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. 

2. How does bipolar disorder impact men's lives differently? 

Bipolar disorder can affect men differently, manifesting in changes in mood, behavior, and energy levels. Men may experience more severe episodes of mania or hypomania compared to women. Additionally, men may be more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior during manic episodes.  

3. What treatment options are available for men with bipolar disorder? 

Treatment options for men with bipolar disorder encompass medication, therapy, lifestyle adjustments, and support groups. These avenues aim to stabilize mood swings, manage symptoms, improve coping mechanisms, and provide a supportive environment for recovery and long-term management. 

4. Why might men hesitate to seek help for bipolar disorder? 

Men might hesitate to seek help for bipolar disorder due to societal stigma surrounding mental health, fear of appearing weak or vulnerable, concerns about loss of independence or control, and a lack of awareness about available support options. 

5. How can lifestyle changes aid in managing bipolar disorder in men? 

Lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol and drugs, can significantly aid in managing bipolar disorder in men. 

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