What is Bipolar Disorder

Individual vs. Group TherapyBipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depression, causes changes in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. Bipolar disorder is a category that includes three different conditions — bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.

People with bipolar disorders experience extreme and intense emotional states that occur at distinct times; these are referred to as mood episodes. Mood episodes are categorized as manic, hypomanic, or depressive. People with bipolar disorders generally also have periods of normal mood as well. Episodes of mood swings can occur rarely or several times a year. While most people will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some people may not experience any at all.

While bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, mood swings and other symptoms can be managed by following a treatment plan. In most cases, bipolar disorder is treated with medications and psychological counseling. Those with this disorder can often lead full and productive lives.

Risk Factors

Most mental health professionals agree that there is no single cause of bipolar disorder.  Instead, it is likely that many factors contribute to the condition or increase risk for it.

  • Brain Structure and Functioning – Some studies have shown that the brains of people with bipolar disorder may differ from the brains of people without the disorder or people with a different mental disorder.
  • Genetics – Some research suggests that genetics can sometimes be a cause for bipolar disorder. Some genes are more predisposed for being a risk factor than others.
  • Family History – Bipolar disorder tends to run in families. Children with a parent or sibling who has bipolar disorder are much more likely to develop the same condition. However, most people with a family history of bipolar disorder will not develop the disorder. 

Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

The dramatic episodes of high and low moods do not follow a set pattern. You may feel the same mood state (either depressed or manic) several times before switching to the opposite mood state. These mood episodes can happen over a period of weeks, months, and sometimes even years.

The severity of these mood states differs from person to person and can also change over time, becoming more or less severe.

Symptoms of mania:

  • Excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement
  • Sudden changes from joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid speech and poor concentration
  • Increased energy and less need for sleep
  • Unusually high sex drive
  • Making grand and unrealistic plans
  • Exhibiting poor judgment
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Becoming more impulsive

Symptoms of depressive periods:

  • Sadness
  • Loss of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Not enjoying activities they once liked
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Irritability
  • Needing more sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite changes that cause weight loss or weight gain
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Attempting suicide

How We Can Help

Our staff can help you find the right treatment program that best fits your symptoms and needs. Treatment has been shown to help many people with bipolar disorder, even those with severe cases. Our person-centered, self-directed, and individually paced treatment programs can help you gain better control of your mood swings and other bipolar symptoms. Contact us and get help today.

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