Bipolar Disorder

depressed girl looks in mirror

Bipolar Disorder

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The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines bipolar disorder as a brain disorder that precipitates changes in a person’s mood, energy, and functionality. Formerly known as manic-depressive illness, bipolar disorder causes “mood episodes,” which are emotional states that last for very distinct periods. These periods usually endure for a period of days to weeks.

Each of these periods generates a mood of either manic (abnormally happy) or depressive (sad). In the midst of these periods, bipolar victims often experience “neutral” cycles as well.

woman suffering from bipolar or disassociative personality disorder

Who suffers from bipolar disorder?

It is estimated that nearly six million U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder, though children and adolescents may be affected as well. Men and women are equally affected by the disorder, and it does run in families, indicating a genetic component. In fact, 80 to 90 percent of those suffering from bipolar disorder have a family member who is also affected.

What causes bipolar disorder?

Though specific causes are unclear, it is believed that a chemical imbalance in the brain is a root cause of bipolar disorder. Paying attention to risk factors is wise. These factors include genetics, high stress environments, and emotional trauma.

We at Bridgepoint stand ready to help you identify your condition and provide the right therapeutic treatments to help you transition to a healthier and more stable lifestyle.

woman suffering from mental disorder

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

Because of the wide mood swings associated with bipolar disorder, the symptoms also vary widely. They change as mood swings move back and forth between manic and depressive phases.

The manic phase of the mood swings usually brings high energy levels and activity. Specific symptoms include:

  • Erratic thought processes
  • Reduced need for sleep
  • Improper social behavior
  • Lack of sound judgment
  • Hallucinations

The depressive phase of bipolar disorder generally displays behaviors reflecting the opposite of the manic phase.  Energy levels are greatly reduced, and people slow down greatly compared to the manic phase. Other symptoms typically involve:

  • Decreased desire to participate in activities
  • Unrelenting negativity
  • Spirit of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Thoughts of death and/or suicide.

Bipolar disorder generates a cycle of these behaviors, and affected people fluctuate back and forth between these two states. Each cycle can last anywhere from mere hours to weeks in either the manic or depressive phase.

Are there different types of bipolar disorder?

There are at least four types of bipolar disorder, and each type is defined by the severity of symptoms. From most severe to least, these types are:

  • Bipolar I disorder
  • Bipolar II disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified

Through exhaustive study and experience, our therapists have developed a complete understanding of all types and phases of bipolar disorder, and we are prepared to help you overcome the struggles that bipolar disorder generates. We look forward to understanding your needs and helping you begin your recovery.

How do you treat bipolar disorder?

The most common treatments include a combination of psychotherapy and medication, depending on severity of each individual.

At Bridgepoint, we have found that therapy sessions can be very effective at leveling the mood swings brought on by bipolar disorder. Our therapists regularly incorporate journaling when successfully working with bipolar disorder patients. Medications such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers often reduce symptoms during treatment and healing. It is often possible to incorporate lifestyle changes to provide positive results as well.

Each individual case varies, and therapy may be continual or used on an “as needed” basis, depending on the needs of each individual.

What should I do to overcome bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a complicated and stressful condition for the sufferer and family, and it can often be very difficult for people to see how symptoms are affecting them.

If you think you may have bipolar disorder, or if you have a loved one who appears to be affected, we recommend that you contact us immediately to schedule an evaluation. After a thorough consultation, our therapists will develop a plan to help you cope with bipolar disorder and its effects as soon as possible.

We at Bridgepoint know how trying bipolar disorder can be, and we look forward to the relief our experience and therapy can provide.

Visit Our Resources Page

Bridgepoint encourages clinicians, patients, and their loved ones to research new methodologies and techniques to improve mental health and wellbeing. To assist with your own learning, we’ve put together a variety of resources on a variety of topics – including genomics – to help you on your mental health journey.

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Lonely sad boy at home