Bipolar disorder is a commonly misunderstood mental health condition. Some people may know it as manic depression, characterized by severe mood swings. Approximately 4.4% of adults experience bipolar disorder at some point in their lives. The good news is that with proper bipolar disorder treatment, living a happy and fulfilling life is possible.
But if someone close to you is struggling with bipolar disorder, it can be tough to know when to help and how to help. Or if you suspect you may have it, you might be feeling overwhelmed and scared. You may have a lot of questions about this disorder. What are the symptoms? What is the diagnosis like? Where can I locate bipolar treatment centers? Well, no need to worry because you’ve just found the definitive guide to bipolar disorder.
If you know someone experiencing bipolar disorder, or suspect you may have it, read on to learn more.
The first step to taking care of your bipolar disorder is understanding what it is. Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that affects a person’s mood, energy levels, and daily life. Bipolar Disorder is characterized by a cycle of “mood episodes”, periods of intense emotional states. These are not extreme mood swings, but longer periods of depression and mania.
Most people are familiar with depression, a deep feeling of sadness or loss of hope. About 19.4 million American adults have experienced depression. But what are the characteristics of mania?
When a person experiences mania, they may feel like they’re on top of the world. They may experience a sharp increase in energy levels and extreme happiness. On the flip side, they may also be more irritable and impulsive.
Bipolar disorder involves three major symptoms: mania, hypomania, and depression. Combined in various ways, these form the four different types of bipolar disorder.
Common symptoms of mania include:
Not everyone who has a manic episode experiences all these symptoms. But manic episodes can be severe enough to need hospitalization. Oftentimes, a person will experience psychosis, which is a complete break from reality.
Hypomania consists of many of the same symptoms as mania, but they are less intense and shorter in length.
Common symptoms of depression include:
There are four types of bipolar disorders. According to the DSM-5, these are bipolar 1, bipolar 2, cyclothymic, and unspecified. The one key similarity is the presence of mania or manic episodes.
The criteria for Bipolar 1 is at least one manic episode. People with this type of bipolar disorder may or may not experience depression as well. But the presence of depression is not necessary to receive a diagnosis.
The manic episode is usually very severe, often involving psychosis. Psychosis can consist of hallucinations, irrational thinking, and illogical thought patterns. People experiencing this are often hospitalized and the episode may last for a week or more. Regardless of whether a person has had one manic episode or many, they can receive a diagnosis for Bipolar 1.
A typical characteristic of this type of bipolar disorder is hypomania. This is not to say that Bipolar 2 is a less severe version of Bipolar 1. They are different diagnoses. The criteria for Bipolar 2 diagnosis is one or more depressive episodes and one or more hypomanic episodes. It’s important to note that there cannot be an episode of mania present.
If you have bipolar 2, you may experience a less intense cycle of hypomania and depression. This type of bipolar disorder is often not severe enough to impact a person’s life, work, or daily function.
The criteria for cyclothymic bipolar is at least two years of depression and hypomania cycles. Short periods of normal mood states are also common.
If you have cyclothymic bipolar, you don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for bipolar 1 or bipolar 2. But you experience many of the same symptoms at a reduced intensity.
This type of bipolar disorder occurs when feelings of mania are present. The main difference? Common symptoms of bipolar disorder are not present or they don’t fit in with the other criteria.
There is currently no conclusive consensus on the cause of bipolar disorder. Scientists who study the condition believe it may be due to genes, brain function, or stress. It may also be a combination of all three.
Your genetics may play a part in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Although there isn’t a specific gene that causes it. Having a close relative with bipolar disorder may mean a higher chance of having it yourself.
Another possible cause is brain function and structure. Currently, it’s not possible to diagnose bipolar disorder with a brain scan. But researchers are learning that it may be possible in the future. Studies have found that people with mental health disorders may have different brain structures than people without.
Finally, extreme stress may trigger a depressive or manic episode, leading to bipolar disorder. This type of extreme stress is usually a big, unexpected life event like divorce or the death of a loved one.
A proper diagnosis from a mental health provider is the first step in managing the disorder. There are several key steps in receiving a diagnosis.
The first is to visit your primary care practitioner, or family doctor, to rule out any illnesses. This is because mental health and physical health conditions often have overlapping symptoms. Once any physical illnesses are ruled out, it’s time to find a mental health clinic.
Finding a bipolar treatment center that works for you can be tough. You may have questions about cost and insurance. You may feel worried about starting a medication schedule. Or you might simply feel nervous about receiving a diagnosis.
The right bipolar treatment centers should make you feel relaxed and safe. Take your time searching, reading, and learning about specialists in your area.
Now you might be wondering how the diagnosis happens. Your mental health provider will most likely perform a mental health evaluation. They will also consider your history and experiences. Mostly, they will listen to and analyze your symptoms to determine if they meet the diagnostic criteria. It’s important to be honest and open, describing your symptoms as detailed as possible.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition and thus, is not curable. But with the right tools, it can be very simple to manage and prevent relapses.
Treatment usually consists of three components: medication, counseling, and lifestyle changes.
With the right mix of medication, the effects of bipolar disorder can be greatly reduced. There is no “one size fits all” system so the first few months may be a time of trial and error.
Generally, people with bipolar disorder will receive a prescription for two types of medication. These are usually mood stabilizers and antipsychotics. Bipolar disorder can also affect sleep patterns so your doctor may prescribe sleep medication. If anxiety is present, your doctor may suggest anti-anxiety medication.
Once a person finds the right mix of medications, it can be a great relief and make daily life much easier.
Counseling, or therapy, is an important part of the bipolar disorder treatment plan. Therapy can be an amazing tool for learning strategies to deal with episodes. Your therapist or counselor is there to help you navigate this diagnosis. They can also offer support to your family and loved ones.
If you or someone you know is experiencing bipolar disorder, it can be tough knowing how to help. Support groups and bipolar disorder treatment centers can educate you on this matter.
It’s important to consider your lifestyle when creating a treatment plan. Common things that other people experience may have a severe impact on the disorder.
Periods of stress, unexpected changes, and even alcohol (read more about Addiction and Bipolar Disorder) can affect bipolar disorder. That’s why structure is key. People experiencing bipolar disorder often find that structuring their days puts them at ease.
A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and healthy eating is something we should all strive for. For people with bipolar disorder, this is especially important. These changes can positively impact the treatment plan.
Receiving a bipolar diagnosis can be difficult. It’s also tough when a loved one is diagnosed with this disorder. But it’s not impossible.
New Method Wellness is a premier dual diagnosis treatment center dually accredited by The Joint Commission and CARF International. It has been singled out as one of the best treatment centers in America, offering a unique 3:1 staff-to-client ratio that pairs every client with two therapists instead of one.
At New Method Wellness, we add another dimension to dual diagnosis treatment, and that is the integration of holistic therapy, such as massage/acupuncture therapy, equine therapy, and art therapy. As addiction therapists and substance abuse counselors work with clients to treat mental health diagnoses, holistic therapy adds meaning to life after treatment and sustains long-term recovery. Our 3:1 staff-to-client ratio ensures client success after treatment, as evidenced by our Extended Aftercare program.
Living a happy life is achievable with the right education, support, and treatment plan. If you’re considering bipolar disorder treatment, please contact us for more information.
From all of us at New Method Wellness co-occurring treatment center, we wish you peace and serenity in knowing that you or your loved one will get the necessary help.