This mental health disorder—which is not a matter of merely having frequent “mood swings”—affects an estimated 2.6% of the United States population. At Hendricks Behavioral Hospital, we offer both comprehensive inpatient care and outpatient programs for people looking for bipolar disorder treatment.
WHAT IS BIPOLAR DISORDER
The bipolar disorder leads to unusual and severe fluctuations in mood, behavior, and energy levels. These fluctuations manifest as alternating “episodes” known as mania and depression (episodes can also be “mixed”). If untreated, manic episodes can last around 3-6 months, and depressive episodes can last around 6 to 12 months.
Hypomania is a less severe manifestation of a manic episode.
Bipolar disorder is believed to affect men and women at the same rate, although research does indicate that the condition may affect the different genders in different ways, with women being more likely to have more rapid episodic cycling and more depressive episodes.
There are at least four types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, cyclothymia, and other specified and unspecified bipolar and related mental health disorders. What’s causing them? It’s not clear, but doctors and researchers agree that genes, family history, and a person’s unique brain structure and function are at play as possible causes.
BIPOLAR SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
A person will exhibit different types of bipolar signs and symptoms depending on which type of episode they’re currently experiencing. Manic episodes are associated with:
- Increased activity and energy
- Euphoria, elation, or feeling “high” or “up”
- Decreased sleep
- Tangential and fast speech
- Increased risky behaviors, such as reckless shopping or sex
- Racing thoughts
A depressive episode features:
- A feeling of worthlessness and guilt
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, joylessness, worry, and despair
- Decreased or increased appetite (with or without weight changes)
- Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
- Decreased interest in previously enjoyed activities and hobbies
- Problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making
- Suicidal ideation or frequent thoughts of death
- Suicide attempts
A bipolar disorder test essentially involves a thorough examination, both physical and mental. This is to rule out other similar conditions and help doctors understand which type of bipolar disorder a person is presenting with. Personal and family history must also be assessed.
Following a diagnosis, bipolar treatment typically involves a combination of psychotherapy and medications, as well as other modalities as indicated. Treatment can be applied in an inpatient or outpatient setting, as well as in individual or group sessions, depending on the person’s needs. The ultimate goal is to help a person manage their episodes more effectively so they can remain productive and fully functioning in their lives and relationships.