Bipolar Schizophrenia (A complete guide)


In this guide, we will discuss what the term “Bipolar Schizophrenia” means. Additionally, we will take a look at bipolar disorder and schizophrenia separately, their symptoms, causes, similarities and differences and treatment. 

Bipolar Schizophrenia: is it a psychiatric condition?

Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are considered psychiatric conditions that actually have some common traits but can also be differentiated in their nature.

Bipolar disorder causes shifts in mood, energy levels, and thinking and Schizophrenia causes hallucinations and unusual believes when contrasted to reality.

People with Bipolar Disorder often experience episodes of mania and depression with relative periods of stability in between. 

In contrast, individuals with schizophrenia experience symptoms of psychosis, characterized by hallucinations or delusions.

However, someone with bipolar disorder may also experience psychotic symptoms but it is not the general rule. 

People who have Schizophrenia or Schizophreniaor bipolar disorder can also develop Anosognosia.

Many mental health professionals face a challenge when diagnosing such conditions since the symptoms may overlap and both disorders can be present at the same time which makes the diagnosis even more complicated.

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, sometimes known as manic depression, is considered a chronic mental illness that falls under the category of mood disorders.

It has been characterized by disruptive shifts in your mood, going from high to low and vice versa.

Furthermore, it is important to identify the types of bipolar disorder since the symptoms can vary.

You may find yourself wondering “am I Bipolar?” and we can tell you that being bipolar is more common than you think and most importantly you are not alone!.

The first symptoms might even manifest during someone’s late teens or early adult years, but it can also be present during childhood. 

Additionally, the bipolar diagnosis seems to be more prevalent in women than men even though it is not clear as to why the tendency.

According to the World Health Organization, this condition is the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide.

Statistics have shown that the rates of diagnosis are rising and also have shown that 20 percent of the people that suffer from Bipolar disorder commit suicide. 

Even though diagnosing this condition can be quite challenging, there are some signs and symptoms to be aware of which can help when seeking professional help.

Symptoms of mania

People with Bipolar Disorder often experience the following symptoms while going through the manic phase:

  • A decreased or no need to sleep, leading to chronic insomnia.
  • Engaging in risky behaviors with no concern over the consequences, such as gambling, having unprotected sex or going on big spending sprees.
  • Feeling restless or having intense feelings of joy and euphoria which don’t seem to fade over time.
  • Being over-optimistic about your abilities.
  • Talking very fast, often accompanied by racing thoughts.
  • Becoming easily distracted.
  • Feeling anxious or nervous over a prolonged period of time.
  • Feeling extremely happy over long periods of time.

Symptoms of Depression

Like mania, bipolar depression symptoms can be identified through the following key signs :

  • Thinking of suicide or attempting to commit suicide.
  • Withdrawing from family and friends.
  • Having difficulties making decisions, concentrating or constantly forgetting things.
  • A significant change in your appetite.
  • Losing your interest in activities that you liked or enjoyed doing before.
  • Feeling fatigued or drained.
  • Feeling hopeless or sad for long periods of time. 
  • Constantly feeling guilty or ashamed.
  • Feelings of boredom and emptiness.

Schizophrenia

Symptoms related to schizophrenia often affect thoughts, emotions, and causes atypical or abnormal behaviors.

The symptoms are divided into “positive symptoms” and “negative symptoms” but they are not termed this way because they are considered good or bad but in terms of adding or removing a behavior. 

Delusions

People suffering from schizophrenia cannot differentiate between what is real and what it is not.

Delusions firm or fixed beliefs that do not have rational arguments or real evidence to support them. 

Hallucinations

During hallucinations, people tend to see, hear or smell things that are not really there. 

Hearing voices is the most reported and common type of hallucination. 

Disorganized speech and thoughts

When communicating with others, the speech of people with schizophrenia does not follow a logical and normal sequence (not making any sense).

Also, they may give answers that are not really related to the initial question and their sentences may seem meaningless for other people.

Abnormal or atypical behavior

The behavior of people with schizophrenia can become unpredictable, exhibiting child-like behaviors or strange postures.

What Causes Bipolar Disorder?

There is no specific or established cause for developing Bipolar Disorder, however, it is believed it is a mix of several factors. 

Brain structure and chemistry

Neuroscientists have found structural differences and neurochemical imbalances in the brain of people with bipolar disorder, using neuroimaging techniques (fMRI).

Genetics

It has been found that having a relative with bipolar disorder increases the risk of developing the condition. 

Stress-related events

Traumatic or emotional situations can also contribute to developing bipolar disorder.

Some examples are experiencing the death of a loved one, emotional distress due to fighting with a partner, childbirth, among others.

What causes Schizophrenia?

As it is the case of Bipolar disorder, there are some of the potential causes identified so far:

Brain structure and chemistry

As in Bipolar disorder, neuroscientists have also found structural differences and neurochemical imbalances in the brain of people with schizophrenia, using neuroimaging techniques (fMRI).

Certain medications

The use of certain medications has been considered as a risk factor in developing this condition.

Prenatal problems

 Scientists have identified that when there is a higher risk of developing schizophrenia if during pregnancy the mother didn’t get the appropriate prenatal care or had suffered from a virus.

Hyperactive immune system 

The immune system helps fight viruses and diseases, so if it got triggered to often, then this could have added to the risk of developing this condition.

How do you get diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder or schizophrenia?

There are no specific medical exams like blood tests to help with the diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder of Schizophrenia.

Instead, mental health professionals can do a psychical and psychological examination. 

Also, they will appeal to the current diagnostic criteria in the newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), to determine if the symptoms you are experiencing match the ones in the manual.

Treatment

They are both life-long conditions so treatment will be required for the rest of your life, even if symptoms tend to go into remission.

Bipolar disorder

 The preferred treatment among mental health professionals is related to medications such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotics or antidepressants.

Moreover,  it is recommended to combine medication with other therapies such as “talking therapy” to help maximize the results

Schizophrenia

The treatment for schizophrenia involves prescribing antipsychotic medication, which helps balance brain chemistry.

Since not everyone responds to drugs the same way, it might take some time to find the right drug and dose.

Antipsychotics are usually recommended at the first stages to treat acute schizophrenic episode.

They basically act by blocking the effect of dopamine in the brain. 

As is the case for bipolar disorder, it is recommended to combine medication with other therapies such as “talking therapy” to help maximize the results 

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) for Bipolar Schizophrenia

Does a schizophrenic know he is schizophrenic?

Most patients with schizophrenia have some level of impaired insight about their condition, however, some of them have some awareness that something might have changed or get the feeling that there is something wrong.

What is the difference between bipolar disorder and schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder?

Do bipolar patients hear voices?

Some people with bipolar disorder can experience hearing voices when they are having a manic or depressive episode.

It is not the general rule for people with bipolar to experience hallucinations, as is the case for schizophrenia, but there are some that can have psychotic symptoms (delusions, hearing voices or having visual hallucinations). 

What are the 4 types of schizophrenia?

There are several types of schizophrenia: paranoid schizophrenia, hebephrenic schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, undifferentiated schizophrenia, residual schizophrenia, simple schizophrenia and unspecified schizophrenia. 

Why is this blog post about Bipolar Schizophrenia important?

This blog about “bipolar schizophrenia” gives the possibility of breaking down both terms and understanding that even though they can co-occur, they are also different in nature.

There is no category or psychiatric condition termed as Bipolar Schizophrenia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is the manual mental health professionals rely on when diagnosing psychiatric illnesses. 

Subsequently, the term “bipolar schizophrenia” could be potentially making reference to “schizoaffective disorder”, where there is a mix of symptoms from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.


Recommended reading

  1. The Triangle Mental Illness and Mental Wellness: Understanding Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Dementia; and Dealing with Patients Living with them 
  2. Schizophrenia: Understanding Schizophrenia, and how it can be managed, treated, and improved
  3. Bipolar II Disorder Workbook: Managing Recurring Depression, Hypomania, and Anxiety
  4. Schizophrenia: Understanding Symptoms Diagnosis & Treatment [mental illness, schizophrenic, schizophrenia disorder] (schizoid, schizoaffective, schizophrenia paranoia)
  5. Schizophrenia: The – Schizophrenic – Laid Bare: Psychosis, Paranoid Schizophrenia, Split Personality (Mental Illness, Bipolar, Schizoaffective, Schizophrenia … Mental Health, Personality Disorder)

What we recommend for Schizophrenia

Professional counselling

If you have Schizophrenia, then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will allow you to practice various habits that improve your overall quality of life.

References

HFNE: Am I bipolar?

NHS

Medical News Today

WebMD

Mental Health Uk

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