Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic-depressive illness or manic depression, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (hypomania or mania) and lows (depression). These mood swings can affect your energy levels, ability to think clearly, and daily functioning.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is essential to seek professional help to manage the condition effectively. Our team at Bristol Health provides compassionate care for bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder are usually characterized by hypomanic, manic, or depressive episodes. Your symptoms can vary depending on the type and severity of your condition but generally include the following.
Manic or Hypomanic Episodes
During a hypomanic or manic episode, you may experience:
- Increased energy and activity levels
- Elevated mood, irritability, or agitation
- Decreased need for sleep
- Racing thoughts or rapid speech
- Impulsivity or engaging in risky behaviors
- Grandiose thinking or inflated self-esteem
During a depressive episode, you may experience:
- Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or emptiness
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed
- Fatigue or low energy levels
- Changes in appetite or weight
- Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or oversleeping
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Depressive episodes usually last at least two weeks and can significantly impact your daily functioning.
Bipolar disorder can manifest in various forms. Each form is characterized by different patterns of mood episodes. Bipolar disorder is classified into the following types:
- Bipolar I Disorder
- Bipolar II Disorder
- Cyclothymic Disorder
- Other specified and unspecified bipolar-related disorders
Understanding the different types of bipolar disorder can help you and your healthcare provider develop the most appropriate treatment plan.
Bipolar I Disorder
Bipolar I Disorder is characterized by at least one manic episode, which may be preceded or followed by hypomanic or depressive episodes.
The manic episodes in Bipolar I Disorder are severe and can significantly impact your daily functioning, sometimes requiring hospitalization. The duration of a manic episode typically lasts at least a week or shorter if hospitalization is necessary.
Bipolar II Disorder
Bipolar II Disorder involves at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic episode, but no manic episodes.
Hypomanic episodes in Bipolar II Disorder are less severe than manic episodes and do not cause the same level of impairment in daily functioning. However, the depressive episodes can be just as debilitating as those experienced in Bipolar I Disorder.
Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)
Cyclothymic Disorder, or cyclothymia, is a milder form of bipolar disorder. It involves periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms that do not meet the full criteria for hypomanic or depressive episodes.
To be diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder, these symptoms must persist for at least two years (or one year in children and adolescents) and not be absent for more than two months at a time.
Other Specified and Unspecified Bipolar and Related Disorders
This category includes bipolar and related disorders that do not fit into the above classifications but still cause significant distress or impairment in daily functioning.
These may include situations where symptoms are present but do not meet the full criteria for a specific type of bipolar disorder or when a healthcare provider is unable to determine the specific type of bipolar disorder due to insufficient information.
Each type of bipolar disorder presents unique challenges and requires a tailored approach to treatment. Our team at Bristol Health can help you determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on your specific symptoms and needs.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not yet fully understood. However, research suggests that a combination of genetic, environmental, and biological factors may contribute to the development of the condition. Some potential factors include:
- Family history: Having a close relative with bipolar disorder increases your risk of developing the condition.
- Brain structure and function: Imbalances in certain brain chemicals and irregularities in brain structure may play a role in bipolar disorder.
- Stressful life events: Traumatic or stressful events, such as the death of a loved one or a major life change, can trigger the onset of bipolar disorder in some individuals.
Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, but with proper treatment and support, you can manage your symptoms and lead a fulfilling life. Some treatment options that we may recommend at Bristol Health include the following.
Mental Health Medication
Medications play a crucial role in managing bipolar disorder. They can help stabilize mood swings and prevent relapse.
Common medications used for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anxiety medications. We will work with you to find the most appropriate medication and dosage for your specific needs.
Mental Health Therapy
Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common approach that helps you identify and change unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors.
Other therapies, such as family-focused therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy, and psychoeducation, can also be beneficial.
Mental Health Testing & Diagnosis
Mental health testing and diagnosis may be used to assess your cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning, helping your healthcare provider better understand your condition and develop a more tailored treatment plan.
Pharmacogenetic testing analyzes your genetic makeup to determine how you may respond to specific medications. This information can help us prescribe the most effective medication for your needs, potentially reducing side effects and improving treatment outcomes.
Lifestyle Changes & Modifications
In addition to professional treatment, making certain lifestyle changes can help you manage bipolar disorder. These changes may include:
- Establishing a regular sleep schedule
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Eating a balanced diet
- Reducing stress through relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises
- Avoiding alcohol and drug use
- Building a strong support network of friends, family, and mental health professionals
If you suspect that you or a loved one may have bipolar disorder, it is essential to seek help from a mental health professional. Early intervention can lead to better treatment outcomes and improve your overall quality of life.
Get in touch with Bristol Health at (801) 903-5903 or request an appointment to learn how we can assist you with bipolar disorder in Utah County.