Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition that is characterized by fluctuating moods from manic highs to depressive lows. These mood swings can really disturb an individual’s relationships, work, school, and personal activities. Bipolar Disorder affects 2.6%, or 5.7 million adults, in the United States every year. If you or someone you know is suffering and needs help, there are a number of treatment options available. The condition cannot be cured but with the right treatment protocol and continuing care and management of the condition, most people lead healthy and happy lives.
Common Symptoms Characterized by Bipolar Disorder
- Mood swings
- Manic Episodes
- Elevated mood, Euphoria
- Sadness and Hopelessness
- Disorganized Behavior
- Weight Gain or Weight Loss
- Difficulty Falling Asleep or Excessive Sleepiness
- Racing Thoughts
- Risky Behavior
of U.S. adults are estimated to experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives
of cases are classified as severe
take their own lives as a result of negative symptoms that come from untreated illness
Manic v. Depressive Episodes
The defining characteristic of Bipolar Disorder is the occurrence of mood swings, from manic to depressive episodes.
Symptoms of a Manic Episode:
- Increased energy levels
- Feeling ecstatic or euphoric
- Difficulty sleeping
- Increased speed of thoughts and speech
- Reckless behavior such as spending money or reckless sex
- Agitation or irritability
Symptoms of a Depressive Episode:
- Feeling sad, hopeless
- Lethargic, very little energy to expend
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Finding little joy in typically pleasurable activities
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in eating habits
- Thoughts of death or suicide
It is also possible to experience the symptoms of mania and depression simultaneously. The severity of symptoms can also vary, although 83% of diagnosed individuals with Bipolar Disorder have severe cases. Only a small portion of people who suffer from this disorder will have mild to moderate symptoms.
Bipolar Disorder Types
There are four main types of Bipolar Disorder that share similar symptoms but have varying degrees.
- Bipolar I Disorder— Manic episodes that last at least 7 days or severe Manic episodes that require admission to a hospital. Depressive episodes lasting at least 2 weeks or also usually present.
- Bipolar II Disorder— Oscillation between depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the severe Manic episodes that are experienced with Bipolar I.
- Cyclothymic Disorder— Also known as Cyclothymia, this type of disorder is characterized by many periods of hypomanic symptoms as well many periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years.
- Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders— Bipolar disorder symptoms that vary from the three categories listed above.
Bipolar Disorder and Depression
Depression disorders such as Manic Depression or Major Depressive Disorder can co-exist or contribute to the onset of Bipolar Disorder. It is important to understand the relationship between these illnesses. Research has shown that 20% of adults suffering from a Depression Disorder will develop Bipolar Disorder within 5 years of the onset of depressive symptoms. Additionally, as many as one in five patients suffering from Bipolar Disorder will commit suicide. Bipolar Disorder is a serious disorder that can adversely affect an individual’s life if left untreated. The sooner an individual receives treatment, the better their condition will be.
Bipolar Disorder and Other Illnesses
Psychosis: Occasionally people with Bipolar Disorder may experience psychotic episodes which are not to be confused with manic episodes. Psychotic symptoms include hallucinations or delusions. If someone with Bipolar Disorder experiences psychotic symptoms, they can sometimes be misdiagnosed with Schizophrenia.
Anxiety and ADHD: People with Bipolar Disorder often have a co-occurring illness such as an Anxiety Disorder or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Substance Abuse: People with Bipolar Disorder may also misuse alcohol or drugs which can bring about issues in one’s personal life. Misuse of alcohol or drugs may be a sign of Bipolar Disorder, or, comparatively, people with Bipolar Disorder may use more alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Some people may concurrently experience PTSD with Bipolar Disorder. For some, PTSD can also contribute to the onset of Bipolar Disorder since it is associated with a significant amount of stress.
Physical Illnesses: Individuals with Bipolar Disorder are at a higher risk for thyroid disease, migraines, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and more.
Eating Disorders: On occasion people with Bipolar Disorder may also have an eating disorder, such as binge eating or bulimia.
Some of these other conditions such as thyroid disease and substance abuse can either mimic the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder, leading to misdiagnosis, or worsen symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. If you or someone you know has other health conditions in addition to Bipolar Disorder, it is important to discuss treatment implications with a trusted healthcare professional.
There are some factors that may put an individual at an increased risk of developing Bipolar Disorder including differences in brain functioning, genetics, stress, and family history. If an individual’s parent or sibling has the disorder, they are more likely to develop the disorder too. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than two-thirds of people with the disorder have at least one close relative who also has Bipolar Disorder.
However, having a relative with Bipolar Disorder does not guarantee someone else in the family will develop it as it is still relatively uncommon. If an individual has a family history of the illness and is also exposed to a significant amount of trauma or stress, that may add to the likelihood of developing the disorder. When risk factors compile, the likelihood increases.
The average age of onset for Bipolar Disorder is 25 but symptoms can occur in childhood and as late as 40s or 50s.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options
The treatment options recommended will depend on each individuals specific case and present situation. For those who are experiencing mild symptoms, an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), Individual Therapy, and Psychiatrist may be the right route to stabilize the patient with therapy and medications. With therapy, Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are usually the recommended options to consider. With more severe cases, often times inpatient and residential treatment may be required to stabilize an individual while having them in a safe and contained environment. Medications used to treat Bipolar Disorder include mood stabilizers, atypical antipsychotics, and antidepressants. It is important to talk with a doctor to find which option is right for you.
With Bipolar Disorder, a combination of treatment options is usually recommended. This may include medication and an inpatient or outpatient program. Consult with the Treatment Specialist today.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
ECT is another treatment option for people with severe cases of Bipolar Disorder. ECT may cause some temporary side effects, but is a good option for individuals with other medical conditions such as pregnancy. Talk to a health professional to determine if ECT is a good option for you.
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Individuals who receive treatment for Bipolar Disorder report high levels of satisfaction with their treatment and maintain a more positive attitude toward their illness. If you are someone you know is struggling with Bipolar Disorder, it is imperative to get help today. The sooner treatment occurs, the better the recovery will be.
Call 866-644-7911 to connect to a treatment center that will provide a free confidential assessment to review the individuals complete medical conditions, psych-social, and psychiatric conditions. You will receive individualized support and guidance to you or your loved one and find you the best possible treatment option for your unique situation and needs.