What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, previously termed manic depression, is a mood disorder marked by erratic shifts in mood and energy levels, disrupting daily tasks. Untreated, these mood swings can escalate into manic and depressive states. Individuals with bipolar disorder experience inefficient mood regulation, oscillating between high energy and deep depression. The unpredictability poses challenges in achieving long-term goals, such as completing education or sustaining employment.

What causes Bipolar Disorder?

The precise cause of Bipolar Disorder remains unclear. Professionals theorize that various factors, including physical, environmental, and social elements, interact in a complex manner to increase an individual's susceptibility to its development.

Bipolar disorder is believed to have a genetic connection, as it is often observed to run in families. Family members of individuals with bipolar disorder face an elevated risk of developing it themselves. However, no singular gene is solely accountable for bipolar disorder. Instead, it is considered that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may serve as triggers.

The symptoms of bipolar disorder are frequently activated by stressful circumstances or situations, including but not limited to

  • Relationship breakdown
  • Experiences of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse
  • Loss of a close family member or loved one

These significant life events can induce episodes of depression at any point in a person's life. Additionally, bipolar disorder may be triggered by factors like physical illness, disruptions in sleep patterns, or overwhelming challenges in everyday life, such as financial issues, work-related problems, or difficulties in relationships.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts in mood, flipping between a manic state and a depressed state.

Manic State

  • Elevated energy levels
  • Elevated mood / elation
  • Speaking rapidly
  • Undertaking several projects at once
  • Feeling invincible
  • Engaging in risky behaviors
  • Irritability
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty sleeping / decreased need for sleep

Depressed State

  • Reduced energy levels
  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Contemplating death or suicide
  • Difficulty articulating thoughts
  • Mental fog / forgetfulness
  • Physical aches
  • Trouble sleeping / increased need for sleep
  • Sence of emptiness
  • Lack of interest or pleasure

Occasionally, an individual with bipolar disorder may experience a mixed episode, displaying symptoms of both mania and depression. This might involve having numerous ideas without the energy to implement them. If uncontrolled, manic states can escalate to a point where a person loses touch with reality and experiences psychosis. Conversely, depressive states can lead to self-harm or attempts at suicide.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are four types of Bipolar Disorder. These include Bipolar I, Bipolar II, Cyclothymic Disorder, and Unspecified Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder

Bipolar I Disorder, the most prevalent among the four types, is characterized by one or more manic episodes, with or without accompanying depressive episodes. The severity of mania in Bipolar I necessitates hospitalization and lasts for a week or longer.

Bipolar II Disorder

Bipolar II Disorder is characterized by the shift between less severe manic (hypomanic) episodes and depressive episodes.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic Disorder, or Cyclothymia, entails recurring mood shifts between depressive and hypomanic states lasting over two years. These episodes, though, do not meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder. Periods of normal mood may occur but typically endure less than eight weeks.

Unspecified Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified is diagnosed when the symptoms don't align with the other three categories but still include episodes of atypical manic mood is defined as an Unspecified Bipolar Disorder.

Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

Serene Mental Health Clinic is your source for diagnosing Bipolar Disorder.

A visit to your primary healthcare provider is the first step to diagnosing Bipolar Disorder. While there are no specific lab tests or scans to diagnose Bipolar Disorder, your provider can conduct examinations and tests to eliminate physical conditions that might be contributing to the symptoms.

If your healthcare provider finds no signs of physical illness, you should schedule an evaluation at Serene Medical Health Clinic. Utilizing specially crafted interview and assessment tools, we aim to determine the presence of bipolar disorder by evaluating

  • Your reported symptoms, considering their intensity and duration
  • Personal health history and family history

Treating Bipolar Disorder

Serene Mental Health Clinic is your source for prescribing treatment for Bipolar Disorder.

Effective treatment of Bipolar Disorder combines medication and psychotherapy (talk therapy). This condition, lasting a lifetime, involves recurring episodes of mania and depression. While some individuals with bipolar disorder experience periods of mood stability between episodes, others may have lingering symptoms. Long-term and consistent treatment is crucial for managing these symptoms successfully.

Medications play a crucial role in managing Bipolar Disorder symptoms. Individuals may need to explore different medications with their health care provider to identify the most effective ones. Common prescriptions include mood stabilizers which aid in preventing or reducing mood episodes and lowering suicide risk. Medications targeting sleep or anxiety may also be part of the treatment plan. In Bipolar Depression treatment, combining antidepressants with mood stabilizers is essential to prevent manic episodes. Given that individuals with bipolar disorder often seek help during depressive phases, careful medical history analysis is vital to avoid misdiagnosing as depression. Those on medication should maintain open communication with their health care provider, report any concerns promptly, and adhere to the prescribed regimen consistently, even if they feel well. Consultation with a health care provider before discontinuing medication is crucial to prevent worsening or recurrence of symptoms.

Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can be an effective component of bipolar disorder treatment. This includes techniques aimed at helping individuals recognize and modify distressing emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Psychotherapy offers support, education, and guidance to individuals with bipolar disorder and their families. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a vital depression treatment, can be particularly beneficial when adapted for insomnia during bipolar depression treatment. Additionally, newer therapies, specifically tailored for bipolar disorder treatment, may be included, such as interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT) and family-focused therapy.