Bipolar Disorder

Clinically Reviewed by: Dr. Robin Campbell, LMFT, PHD

Bipolar disorder, affecting over 8 million Americans annually, stands as a significant mental health condition that demands attention and understanding. At New Hope Healthcare Institute we aim to shed light on the essential aspects of bipolar disorder, from its symptoms and causes to effective treatments and preventive measures.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic depression, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings. These include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression), affecting a person’s sleep patterns, energy levels, behavior, and ability to think clearly.

Despite being a common condition, bipolar disorder can significantly impact daily life, though its effects vary from person to person. Some may lead relatively normal lives, while others may find daily tasks challenging.

What is a Bipolar Person Like?

Those with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings that range from manic highs to depressive lows. During manic episodes, they may feel euphoric, have heightened energy levels, engage in impulsive behavior, and experience racing thoughts. Conversely, during depressive episodes, they may feel hopeless, and fatigued, experience changes in appetite or sleep patterns, and have difficulty concentrating.

These mood swings can significantly disrupt daily functioning, impacting relationships, work or school performance, and overall quality of life. However, it’s essential to note that the severity and frequency of these episodes can vary widely among individuals. Some people with bipolar disorder may experience milder symptoms and be able to manage their condition effectively with treatment, allowing them to lead relatively normal lives. On the other hand, others may struggle more profoundly, requiring intensive intervention and support to maintain stability.

What Age Groups Are More Vulnerable to Bipolar Disorder?

While bipolar disorder can occur at any age, it most frequently develops in teenagers and young adults between 12 and 24 years old. It’s also noted that individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) may be at higher risk of developing bipolar disorder later in life.

What are the Types of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is classified into three main types:

Bipolar I

Bipolar I disorder is characterized by the presence of at least one manic episode, which may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or major depressive episodes.

Manic episodes involve:

These episodes can significantly impair functioning and may lead to reckless behavior or delusions.

Depressive episodes in bipolar I disorder are marked by:

These episodes can be severe and debilitating. However, individuals with bipolar I disorder may experience periods of stability between episodes, but the condition typically requires ongoing management with medication and therapy to prevent a recurrence.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II disorder is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression and at least one hypomanic episode.

Hypomania is a less severe form of mania characterized by:

While hypomanic episodes are less extreme than manic episodes, they can still disrupt daily functioning and may lead to risky behaviors.

Depressive episodes in bipolar II disorder are similar to those experienced in bipolar I disorder, involving:

Bipolar II disorder is often misdiagnosed as major depressive disorder due to the prominence of depressive symptoms. However, accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective treatment, as antidepressants alone can trigger manic episodes in individuals with bipolar disorder.

Cyclothymia

Cyclothymic disorder is characterized by chronic fluctuations in mood, with periods of hypomanic symptoms alternating with periods of mild depression. These mood swings are less severe than those seen in bipolar I and II disorders but are more persistent, lasting for at least two years in adults and one year in adolescents.

Individuals with cyclothymic disorder may experience:

  • relatively stable periods between mood swings but often struggle with ongoing mood instability and impaired functioning.

Cyclothymic disorder may progress to bipolar I or II disorder in some cases, particularly without appropriate treatment.

Overall, each type of bipolar disorder presents unique challenges and requires tailored treatment approaches to effectively manage symptoms and improve quality of life. Early diagnosis and intervention are essential for minimizing the impact of the disorder and promoting long-term stability. To learn more about the type of bipolar disorder you or your loved one might be facing, contact New Hope Healthcare.

What are the Causes of Bipolar Disorder?

The etiology of bipolar disorder remains multifaceted and lacks singular attribution. However, several contributory factors have been identified.

Among these factors are environmental stressors, including traumatic experiences, adverse life events, and the bereavement of significant individuals. These stressors may precipitate bipolar disorder in individuals already predisposed to mood disorders.

Additionally, genetic predisposition plays a significant role, with familial history and genetic inheritance being implicated in the manifestation of bipolar disorder. Individuals with a familial lineage of the disorder are notably predisposed to its development.

What are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder comes with high and low periods. Both periods are extreme and have their symptoms.

Symptoms (High Energy and Mood)

Symptoms (Low Energy and Mood)

While some people might have some of these symptoms, the defining factor for bipolar depression is the abrupt change in mood and behavior.

How is Bipolar Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of bipolar disorder can be complicated by the misconception that mood disturbances are solely indicative of sadness or depression. This can impede accurate recognition and diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

The diagnostic process typically involves a series of assessments aimed at ruling out physical ailments through various tests, alongside a comprehensive evaluation of familial history and physical examination.

Ultimately, the diagnosis of bipolar disorder adheres to the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

It is imperative to recognize the potential for self-harm or suicide among individuals with bipolar disorder. Several warning signs may indicate an increased risk of self-harm, including:

Should signs of self-harm be observed, immediate medical intervention is crucial.

Can Bipolar Disorder Be Prevented?

The best way to prevent bipolar disorder is by seeking help immediately if you notice a mental health issue.

Other preventive measures include

While these tips might help, there is no exact way of preventing bipolar disorder.

What are Some of the Likely Treatments for Bipolar?

Natural Remedies for Bipolar Disorder

Making some lifestyle changes can ease some of the symptoms of this disorder. These changes include

Medical Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Medical treatment involves at least three different forms of treatment. This includes:

Medical Treatment for Bipolar Disorder

Medical treatment involves at least three different forms of treatment. This includes:

  1. Pharmacotherapy:
    • Prescription medications are often integral to treatment, such as:
      • Antidepressants
      • Mood stabilizers like lithium
      • Antipsychotics
      • Sedatives
      • Anticonvulsants
    • The primary objective of medication is symptom management rather than a permanent cure for bipolar disorder.
  1. Additional Therapeutic Approaches:
    • Counseling
    • Psychotherapy
    • Social rhythm therapy
    • Acupuncture

Is Bipolar Disorder Curable?

Bipolar disorder is considered a lifelong condition. While it is not currently curable, it is manageable with appropriate treatment and support. Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder may experience fluctuations in mood and symptoms throughout their lives. However, with diligent management and adherence to treatment plans, many individuals with bipolar disorder can lead fulfilling and productive lives. Affected individuals need to seek professional help, engage in therapy, and adhere to medication regimens to effectively manage the condition and mitigate its impact on daily functioning and overall well-being. Additionally, having a strong support network of family, friends, and healthcare professionals can significantly contribute to the successful management of bipolar disorder and improve the individual’s quality of life.

Contact New Hope Healthcare Today!

If you have any symptoms of bipolar disorder, treating your symptoms immediately gives the best results. At New Hope Healthcare we offer a comprehensive approach to treatment that includes dual diagnosis, individualized treatment plan, clinical supervision as well as holistic therapy. Call us at 866-806-1027 to ask how we can help!

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