It isn’t uncommon to be diagnosed with a mental disorder in the United States. Almost one in five adults lives with one. Bipolar disorder is a commonly diagnosed mental health condition that more people are learning about daily. Learn more about bipolar disorder issues and treatments that can help.

Overview of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, once known as manic depression, is a mental and mood disorder that contributes to significant, drastic changes in a person’s energy and personality. This disorder can affect everything from decision-making to physical abilities. Getting out of bed can be a struggle when dealing with bipolar disorder.

There are different clinical types of bipolar disorder, but they all come with periods of manic and depressive episodes in between seemingly everyday life. Hypomanic episodes are manic occurrences that aren’t as severe but are still life-altering. The types of bipolar disorder include:

  • Bipolar I
  • Bipolar II
  • Cyclothymic

Some people may experience symptoms that don’t necessarily match one of the descriptions above. These are known as “other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.” For instance, one could experience manic episodes but not have the depressive episodes required for the diagnosis.

Signs and Symptoms

Two tell-tale signs of bipolar disorder are periods of both manic and depressive episodes. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can include intense emotion, sleep changes, changing activity levels, uncharacteristic behaviors, and more. Each instance is unique, so patients may not experience the same symptoms, or they may experience symptoms of varying intensity.

While emotions and sleep changes could be due to many other factors, these symptoms come in cycles that last for the entirety of a day up to a few weeks. A bipolar I diagnosis requires manic episodes for seven days or medical intervention. Patients with bipolar I often exhibit depressive episodes for at last two weeks.

Bipolar II is less severe. Patients with bipolar II will experience depressive and hypomanic episodes but never reach full manic. Cyclothymic or Cyclothymia is chronic and defined by at least two years of similar symptoms to bipolar II but doesn’t meet the exact requirements.

Manic Episodes

The name bipolar represent two opposite poles or episodes. The first of those episodes is known as “manic.” Manic episodes are periods when a person seems wired. They may experience a range of emotions and feelings, including:

  • Energetic
  • Jumpy
  • Irritability and anger
  • Ability to function on limited sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Reckless behavior
  • Overactive imagination

It’s common for someone in a manic episode to do impulsive, risky things or take on more than they can handle. People in a manic state might imagine they are famous or highly talented.

Depressive Episodes

The opposite of manic is depressive. Patients experiencing depressive episodes may find it hard to function. Depressive episodes can include feelings like:

  • Sadness and hopelessness
  • Insomnia
  • Forgetfulness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of interest in things they enjoy
  • Weight gain
  • Suicidal thoughts

Depressive episodes bring a dark fog and can significantly increase the rates of attempted suicide. Daily tasks seem too difficult to bear when experiencing a depressive episode.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

When a physician examines a patient for a mental illness or other disorders, they will run various tests. A psychiatrist or psychologist considers symptoms, family, and medical history when diagnosing. A clinical social worker specializing in diagnosing and treating bipolar disorder can also treat bipolar disorder issues. Sometimes close family or friends are involved in the process to get an accurate account of symptoms and history. The reports of family and friends can help rule out other depressive mental disorders. Diagnosis typically happens for most patients when they are teenagers or in their early twenties. However, because symptoms vary and can change with time, anyone can be diagnosed at any age.

Bipolar Disorder and Other Conditions

Other conditions can exist with bipolar disorder, so it’s common for a mental health assessment to uncover other mental health conditions. Some mental health conditions may share symptoms, or symptoms may mask other symptoms. For instance, people with bipolar disorder often suffer from anxiety. There is also a crossover with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and studies show that both bipolar disorder and ADHD are affected by brain structure and genetics. Other issues that may coexist with bipolar disorder include drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and eating disorders. Patients experiencing multiple conditions need a well-rounded treatment plan that addresses all the diagnosed conditions.

Bipolar Disorder Treatments

A proper bipolar diagnosis is essential to getting effective treatment. Treatment for bipolar disorder issues includes prescription medications and therapy. Though bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, a suitable treatment plan can help manage symptoms.

Mood stabilizers like antidepressants can be beneficial, while CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) can offer tools to implement during episodes. Exercise is proven to alleviate depression and anxiety while promoting better sleep. A routine of these treatments can work together to help those with bipolar disorder. Those seeking help should talk to their health professional to develop an individualized treatment plan.

Find Bipolar Disorder Issues Treatment

Bipolar disorder issues can leave people feeling hopeless and afraid, but there are ways to live and cope. If you or someone you know with a bipolar diagnosis is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please seek help immediately. No one has to go through this alone. At Comprehensive Wellness Centers located in Lantana, FL, there are inpatient and outpatient programs for those seeking mental health treatment.