What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive disorder, is a mental illness that involves extreme mood swings that interfere with your daily living and relationships. These mood changes range from mania to severe depression. Such changes in mood may occur a few times a year or a few times a day. Occasionally people with bipolar disorder can experience both extremes at the same time, in what is known as a "mixed state." Bipolar disorder is believed to affect as many as 5.7 million Americans. The symptoms may vary for each individual, and there are several types of bipolar disorder based on different patterns. The types of bipolar disorder include bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymia.
Bipolar depression is a type of depression that occurs within the spectrum of bipolar disorder. Symptoms may include feeling very sad or empty, experiencing fatigue or trouble concentrating, changes in appetite, or thoughts of suicide.
Although the symptoms of bipolar disorder can disrupt your normal life, proper treatment and support can help you experience success in your career, activities, and relationships. If you are struggling with the symptoms of bipolar disorder, contact Pathways Real Life Recovery. Because we believe that "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts," we are focused on treating all aspects of an individual, not just the symptoms. We aim to become a safe haven that helps adolescents, adults, and seniors struggling with a mental health disorder or substance abuse. Pathways' dedicated staff provides personal and professional care to each patient and makes sure they feel respected and valued. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Bipolar disorder is associated with several symptoms, although the symptoms and their severity can vary with each individual. A person must have experienced a period of either mania or less severe hypomania to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder. If you are concerned that you may have bipolar disorder, make sure you discuss all symptoms, including manic episodes, with your health care provider. This will help your provider reach an accurate diagnosis.
Depressive symptoms may include:
- Persistent feelings of sadness or worry
- Feeling fatigue or lack of motivation
- Feelings of hopelessness or pointlessness
- Forgetfulness or trouble concentrating
- Changes in appetite
- Excessive sleep or difficulty sleeping
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Manic symptoms may include:
- Becoming much more active than usual
- Intense feelings of elation or being "high"
- Feelings of agitation or irritability
- Feeling like doing many things at once
- Thinking or speaking rapidly about numerous things
- Difficulty sleeping or not needing to sleep
- Engaging in risky behavior
Bipolar Testing and Diagnosis
Some people struggle with bipolar disorder for years before they are diagnosed, because the symptoms may be mistaken for other issues. Likewise, a person with several different health concerns, either mental or physical, may be incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Therefore, it is very important for a health care provider to consider all symptoms carefully and use several different testing methods to diagnose the issue. These tests can help discover or rule out other problems and point out related complications to bipolar disorder. A few of these tests include:
- Physical exams and lab tests to identify or rule out possible physical causes of the symptoms
- Psychological testing: A health provider talks to you about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior, or asks you to complete a self-assessment or psychological questionnaire; sometimes friends or family members may be asked (with your permission) to provide information about your symptoms or behavior
- Mood charting: A health care provider asks you to keep a daily record of your moods, sleep patterns, and other things that can help track symptoms, pinpoint a diagnosis and identify proper treatment
- Comparing your symptoms with the current criteria for bipolar and other related disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
If your health care provider does make a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, there are many different effective treatment options. These methods can reduce the effect that bipolar disorder has on your relationships, your job, and other aspects of your life. In some cases, the treatment may prevent depressive or manic episodes, or may make them less severe. Even if you still experience the symptoms of bipolar disorder, know that many other people with this condition have been able to manage their symptoms and live happy, fulfilling lives. A combination of disease education, medication, and some form of therapy is often the most effective at helping individuals with bipolar disorder feel better.
Some specific treatments for bipolar disorder include:
- Individual therapy: This type of treatment supports, teaches, and guides people with bipolar disorder and their families, and may include cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, or psychoeducation.
- Family therapy: With this treatment, experts from Pathways work with you and your family in your own home, holding family sessions that help the patient and family members address the bipolar disorder. These meetings also help the patient and loved ones discuss how the mental illness has affected the family or household overall, and what emotions have accompanied it. This type of treatment is especially helpful for combating the social isolation that often arises in individuals with bipolar disorder.
- Medication management: This may include prescription mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, antianxiety medications, or some combination of these. Many different medications have demonstrated effectiveness in treating bipolar disorder. Pathways also provides a genetic testing service that can help pinpoint the most effective medication for your specific needs, along with the proper dosage. The appropriate medication and dosage is especially important for patients with severe depression or thoughts of suicide, as it can help stabilize their moods.
- Lifestyle changes: Although they are not often effective on their own, lifestyle changes can supplement other forms of treatment and help patients feel better. This includes exercise, including swimming or yoga, and plenty of sleep. Some vitamin deficiencies, such as vitamins B and D, can worsen the symptoms of mood disorders. Alcohol and other addictive substances should be avoided. Surrounding yourself with supportive people also helps combat depression and feelings of loneliness or isolation.
Pathways Real Life Recovery is a Bipolar Treatment Center in Utah
Reaching out for help with bipolar disorder can be intimidating, but seeking assistance from a program may save your life. While many people with a mental illness avoid help because they think their problem is "not that bad," living without proper treatment for a long time can have a negative and even dangerous effect. Individuals with bipolar disorder who do not receive treatment can slowly lose their ability to function normally. During a depressive episode, they may feel worthless and do not want to participate in any activities. During a manic phase, they may spend money recklessly or engage in other risky behaviors.
At Pathways, clients first meet with an intake counselor for a comprehensive assessment. This will evaluate the client's current mental health and the severity of the bipolar disorder, along with other potential medical problems. The multidisciplinary team at Pathways will compile the assessment results to create an individualized treatment plan, matching each patient with the types of treatment and therapists that are best for his or her specific needs.
Toward the end of treatment at Pathways, patients will work closely with a discharge planner to establish a plan for the next phase of bipolar treatment. The experts at Pathways will make referrals with people who can form a lasting relationship with the patient and help him or her achieve success with continued care.
Pathways monitors the progress of our patients for up to 3 years after treatment is completed. Contact Pathways Real Life Recovery today for a free assessment opportunity.