Bipolar disorder is a significant and often highly impactful mental health disorder affecting an estimated 5.7 million Americans in any given year.
Many people have heard of bipolar disorder, and perhaps even use the term to describe “up and down” situations or people. But bipolar disorder is not a matter of normal “mood swings.” Here at Ridgeview Institute, our behavioral health specialists meet hundreds of locals every year who are living with bipolar disorder. We believe that our comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach to bipolar treatment is what has helped many members of our community thrive while living with this and similar mental health disorders.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is characterized by alternating, unusual, and often extreme episodes of varying moods. Episodes are generally classified into two main types: manic episodes and depressive episodes. During these episodes, a person’s behaviors, affect, and energy levels can change dramatically (see bipolar signs and symptoms for more). The third type of episode, known as hypomania, is considered a less severe type of manic episode.
Four types of bipolar disorder exist: bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, and other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders.
It’s not exactly clear what causes bipolar disorder and why some people have it while others don’t. However, it is believed that genes, brain function and structure, as well as family history play a contributing role in the disorder.
Bipolar Signs and Symptoms
Family members and other close loved ones often notice these changes in mood and behavior—even if the person with bipolar disorder doesn’t. Bipolar signs and symptoms depend on which type of episode a person is currently in:
During a manic episode (which, if left untreated, can last for 3 to 6 months), a person may exhibit:
- Increased energy, activity, and creativity.
- Fast and tangential speech
- Racing thoughts
- Decreased sleep
- Increased irritability
- Risky behaviors (e.g., spending a lot of money or having promiscuous sex).
- Feelings of euphoria or elation.
During a depressive episode (which, if left untreated, can last for 6 to 12 months), a person may exhibit:
- A pervasive feeling of hopelessness.
- Decreased energy
- Impaired sleep
- Decreased interest in activities previously enjoyed.
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering things.
- Appetite changes
- Suicidal thoughts or frequent thoughts of death.
Bipolar Treatment Options
This condition is very similar to many others, therefore, our psychiatrists utilize physical and psychological examination techniques as well as personal/family history as a virtual “bipolar disorder test” that helps us rule out other conditions. After a diagnosis has been made, treatment will be tailored to the individual with the main goal of helping a person function more effectively. Treatment options may include medications, psychotherapy, sleep medications, and holistic therapies.
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Ridgeview Institute is here to guide your journey toward mental wellness. For your convenience, we offer 24/7 assessments at no cost. If you or a loved one is struggling with a mental health or substance abuse issue contact us to see how we can help.