Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder that causes shifts in a person’s mood, energy, concentration, and ability to function. Although individuals with bipolar disorder can struggle with severe shifts in mood and functionality, these symptoms can be managed with medication and the support of a therapist.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder has similar characteristics to depression during depressive episodes, but unlike depression, bipolar disorder includes extreme ups such as abnormal happy and irritable mood swings. While persons with bipolar disorder may not experience all the same symptoms, extreme mood shifts can impact their energy levels, ability to think, participate in activities, behavior, and ability to make decisions.

 The most common signs of bipolar disorder include changes in:

  • Mood
  • Energy levels
  • Thinking patterns
  • Speech 
  • Sleep patterns

Table of Contents

Moreover, there are three major types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, and cyclothymic disorder (cyclothymia).

Bipolar I Disorder

  • Manic episodes
  • Depressive episodes
  • Mixed episodes

Bipolar II Disorder

  • Hypomania
  • Experiences at least one depressive episode
  • Returns to typical function between episodes

Cyclothymic Disorder

  • Hypomanic symptoms
  • Depressive symptoms

Other Types of Bipolar Disorder

  • Substance use and medication-induced bipolar disorder
  • Bipolar disorder related to another medical condition
    • Cushing’s disease
    • Multiple sclerosis
    • Stroke
  • Other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders

Bipolar Disorder Statistics

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), approximately 5.7 million adults in the United States are affected by bipolar disorder. The number of people living with some form of bipolar disorder is evenly distributed among men and women. However, research has shown that women with bipolar II disorder are more likely than men to experience rapid cycling, which is four or more episodes of mania and depression within a year. Women are also more likely to have more depressive and mixed episodes than men. 

The onset of bipolar disorder typically occurs in early adulthood; people can start exhibiting symptoms in early childhood, adolescence, and middle age. While bipolar disorder in early childhood is rare, children of people with bipolar disorder have a 15-30% chance of developing the mood disorder. Furthermore, children and adolescents with major depression have a higher chance of developing bipolar disorder. In some cases, depression may be a sign of the early onset of the condition.

As noted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), there is no evidence of one specific cause for bipolar disorder. Rather, there are several risk factors over the course of a life that can lead to bipolar disorder. 

Risk Factors

  • Other mental health conditions:
    • Anxiety disorders
    • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
    • Eating disorders
  • Genetics:
    • A close relative has bipolar disorder
      • Parent
      • Sibling
  • Brain structure and function
  • Environment
  • Trauma 
  • Significant Stress

What Does Bipolar Disorder Feel Like?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can shift based on the type you have, but many of the symptoms for each type overlap with each other. In addition, not every individual diagnosed with a form of bipolar disorder experiences all or the same level of intensity of the symptoms.

Bipolar I Disorder Symptoms

  • Manic episodes:
    • Abnormally “up” mood level
    • High energy
    • Easily distracted
    • Rapid thoughts and speech
    • Sleeping less
    • Increased risky behavior
  • Depressive episodes:
    • Abnormally “low” mood level
    • Low energy
    • Loss of interest in activities
    • Forgetfulness
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Slow speech
    • Oversleeping
    • Increased appetite
    • Decreased appetite
    • Suicidal ideation
  • Mixed episodes
    • Experience manic and depressive symptoms simultaneously 

Bipolar II Disorder Symptoms

  • Hypomania
    • Less severe manic episodes
    • Abnormal’  “up” mood
    • Increased activity and agitation
    • High energy
    • Euphoria
    • Rapid thoughts and speech
    • Easily distracted
    • Risky behavior
    • Needs less sleep
  • During a hypomanic episode
    • Still feels good
    • Able to complete tasks
    • Can maintain daily functioning

Cyclothymic Disorder Symptoms

  • Mild to moderate hypomanic and depressive symptoms
  • Hypomanic symptoms:
    • Euphoria
    • Inflated self-esteem
    • Easily distracted
    • Increased irritability and agitation
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Talkative
    • Racing thoughts
    • Poor judgment
    • Hyper-focused on goals
    • Needs less sleep
  • Depressive symptoms:
    • Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness
    • Irritability
    • Loss of interest in activities 
    • Changes in weight
    • Issues with appetite
    • Difficulty sleeping and staying awake
    • Restlessness
    • Low energy
    • Problems concentrating
    • Suicidal ideation

Childhood Symptoms

  • Manic episodes:
    • Irritable
    • Destructive outbursts
  • Depressive episodes:
    • Physical symptoms
      • Headaches
      • Stomachaches
      • Tired
    • Irritable
    • Social isolation
    • Struggles with performance in school
    • Increased sensitivity to rejection and failure
  • Rapid mood changes during episodes

In addition, clients with severe manic and depressive episodes can experience psychosis, including psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Why Is Treatment for Bipolar Disorder Important?

Treating bipolar disorder is important because it is a chronic condition that will worsen without treatment. Early intervention for treating bipolar disorder can help manage mood swings and other symptoms and prevent full-blown manic and depressive episodes. 

Receiving support is also particularly important for family planning. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), women considering pregnancy should consider risk-benefit treatment options with a care provider as some medications can put fetuses and breastfeeding children at risk. At the same time, no medical intervention can lead to worsening symptoms and health risks for the mother and baby.

What Makes Our Program Unique?

At Mindfuli, our virtual chat-based and real-time video service options make getting the care you deserve easier. You can receive support from our team of licensed therapists and care counselors from the comfort of your home. Our services are based on the importance of a collaborative relationship between you and your care team through a therapeutic alliance.

Mindfuli’s conceptualization of psychologist Edward Bordin’s work in therapeutic alliance includes:

  • Agreement on goals
  • Assignment of tasks
  • Development of bonds

We also offer a variety of evidence-based practices to support you on your journey to lifelong wellness:

  • Mindfulness-based relapse prevention (MBRP)
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Assertive community treatment (ACT)

To learn more about our approach to care, visit our Home page.

Getting Help

If you are experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, seeking support is the first step toward achieving long-term wellness. Bipolar disorder can make it difficult to think, make decisions, and function in your daily life. Seeking treatment for bipolar disorder can help you manage your symptoms and support you in living a fulfilling life with fewer full-blown manic and depressive-type symptoms. Through our therapeutic services, Mindfuli can help you make meaningful progress and achieve your goals for lifelong well-being.

To learn more about Mindfuli and our team of care experts, visit the Our Team page.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, but you can manage your symptoms and live a fulfilling life with treatment and support. Our therapeutic alliance approach to wellness at Mindfuli can help you make meaningful progress toward your goals. Call us today at (888) 703-3004 to learn more.

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