What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Also known as manic-depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is a diagnosis given to a category of mood disorders that influence mood and affects about 6.1 million adults each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Although children and adolescents can show signs of bipolar disorder, it usually emerges in the late teens or the early twenties and can go undiagnosed for many years. Without treatment, it can be incapacitating, however, bipolar disorder is manageable, and the best course of treatment is a regimen of medication and various therapies.
Bipolar disorder is often inherited, but a definitive cause hasn’t yet been proven. Some people have been known to develop bipolar disorder after a head injury; it’s also been linked to thyroid disease. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms are often difficult for others to understand.
Bipolar Disorder: Mood Shifts
It’s important to note that people with bipolar disorder have no control over the extreme shifts in mood they experience, from severe depression to complete mania, as well as milder symptoms of both extremes. People who are going through a milder manic phase (hypomania) often report an ability to be more creative and have more ideas but are often easily frustrated or irritable. They may be spontaneous and may also be overly productive. However, as the symptoms increase, the ideas can come too quickly, and they can become agitated and enraged. They may also experience little need to sleep and may feel indestructible. A manic phase usually lasts a week or more and co-exist with at least three other symptoms of mania.
Following a manic phase, many people with bipolar disorder will lapse into a depression. It can be so disabling and pervasive that they may refuse to get out of bed. Friends, loved ones, and co-workers are often confused by this shift in behavior because it is so dramatically different from their earlier elevated state.
Additionally, bipolar I disorder is what people usually refer to when talking about manic depression. They will experience the extreme highs along with the lows and may suffer from hallucinations and/or delusions, as well. However, people diagnosed with bipolar II disorder suffer more depression and do not experience the extreme highs in their mood. Instead, they experience what is called “hypomania,” which is a milder form of mania without the psychotic features.
Substance Use and Bipolar Disorder
Drug and alcohol abuse are often common in people with bipolar disorder. They often abuse drugs to self-medicate or increase euphoric symptoms. It becomes a repetitive cycle because substance misuse can also worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder. When a substance use disorder is present, also known as dual diagnosis, it’s important to treat both diagnoses concurrently in an integrated setting.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
The main characteristic of people living with bipolar disorder is suffering under the weight of two intense emotional states, clinically known as mania and depression. Everyone’s symptoms are different, with the severity of mania and depression varying from person to person.
Depressive phases of bipolar disorder have the direct opposite effect. The signs and symptoms of the depressive phase can include:
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Many people with bipolar disorder don’t get the treatment they need, but they can’t get better on their own. Receiving proper care at Lifeskills with experts who have experience in the effective management of bipolar disorder, helps clients get their symptoms under control, allowing them to have long-lasting and sustainable health and happiness.
At Lifeskills, our clinical team develops specialized treatment plans that best addresses each client’s needs by incorporating the most successful evidence-based therapy methods and healing. Our holistic approach allows clients to strengthen and develop their understanding of their diagnosis. We also help clients better manage their symptoms through individual, family-focused, and group therapy sessions in a calming and therapeutic environment.