What Is Bipolar Disorder?Lindsay Chambers
Bipolar disorder, previously known as manic depression, is a condition that causes dramatic shifts in a person’s mood and behavior. People with this mental health issue alternate between bouts of depression and manic episodes where they have ample energy and enthusiasm. These mood swings can affect sleep, energy, activity, judgment, behavior and the ability to think clearly.
While bipolar disorder can significantly impact your quality of life, the appropriate diagnosis and treatment can help you get back on an even keel. Many people with bipolar benefit from a treatment approach that combines psychotherapy and medication.
Causes and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Medical professionals have yet to pinpoint a reason some people develop bipolar disorder, but as with other mental health disorders, researchers suspect there may be a genetic component. It’s likely that biological and environmental factors also play a role. For example, imbalanced brain chemicals called neurotransmitters might contribute to whether someone goes on to become bipolar. Additionally, some risk factors can trigger the development of bipolar disorder, such as substance abuse or a traumatic event.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder can ebb and flow over time. Manic episodes can impact your relationships and your ability to perform well at school or work, while depression can make you feel worthless, guilty or suicidal. Mania can also cause psychosis, which may require a hospital stay.
A manic episode involves three or more of these characteristics for a prolonged period.
- Increased energy or activity levels
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Making rash or impulsive decisions
- Inflated sense of confidence
- Decreased need for sleep
- Unusual talkativeness
- Racing thoughts
A major depressive period is disruptive enough to cause difficulty with your day-to-day functioning, and may include symptoms such as these.
- Loss of enthusiasm for formerly enjoyable hobbies
- Feelings of emptiness, guilt or worthlessness
- Eating or sleeping noticeably more or less than usual
- Decreased ability to concentrate, focus or remember things
How to Get Help for Bipolar Disorder
Often, people living with bipolar disorder do not notice how disruptive their emotional instability is, and fail to get the treatment they need. Others enjoy the euphoric highs and improved energy and productivity associated with manic episodes. However, the resulting emotional crash can leave you feeling drained and exhausted.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression or mania, visit your doctor or therapist. Bipolar disorder won’t get better all by itself. Seeking treatment from a mental health professional with experience in bipolar disorder can help you learn to manage your symptoms and live a fuller, healthier life.
At Serene Behavioral Health, we offer four treatment levels to support our clients’ specific needs. Regardless of your symptoms’ severity, you can count on us to create a customized plan to address them and help you reclaim your mental health. For more information about our treatment philosophy and learn whether it is a good fit for yourself or a loved one, please reach out to us today. We’re available 24/7 to provide support when you need it.