This serious disorder is manageable with proper diagnosis and treatment
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Formerly known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression, bipolar disorder involves a clear change in someone’s mood, energy, and activity level, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
It’s a wildly fluctuating state of being with mood swings characterized by extreme “ups.” During this “up” period, someone will feel particularly productive, elated, fearless, and energized. These are known as manic episodes. On the flip side, “down” periods (or depressive episodes) are marked by sadness, indifference, and hopelessness. Somewhere in between, less severe manic periods are known as hypomanic episodes.
Not all bipolar disorder is the same. In fact, there are three types. With Bipolar I Disorder, manic episodes last at least seven days or are defined by such severe manic symptoms that immediate hospital care is required. There may be times where depression is described as having mixed features, meaning depressive and manic symptoms simultaneously. Typically, depressive episodes will last two weeks in tandem with the manic symptoms.
Bipolar II Disorder will often not feature the full-blown manic episodes that are common with Bipolar I. Instead, it is typically defined by a period of depressive and hypomanic episodes.
Lastly, Cyclothymic Disorder, also known as Cyclothymia, is known for stretches of hypomanic symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms that last at least two years (or for children and adolescents, one year). What differentiates Cyclothymic Disorder from Bipolar I and II is how the symptoms don’t fit the traditional requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode, which makes it bit more challenging to pinpoint.
Negative Effects of Bipolar Disorder
- Interferes with someone’s ability to perform everyday tasks
- Stifles “normal” social interactions and meaningful relationships
- Erratic behavior, feelings, and thinking that makes relationships, work, and finances challenging
- A disconnection with reality
- A greater risk for co-occurring substance use disorder
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Feelings of guilt, severe sadness, irritability
Bipolar Disorder FAST FACTS
- According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 2.8% of US adults had bipolar disorder in the past year.
- An estimated 4.4% of US adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.
- Among adolescents, the prevalence of bipolar was higher for females (3.3%) than males (2.6%).
- An estimated 82.9% of people with bipolar disorder had serious impairment, the highest percentage of serious impairment among mood disorders, while an estimated 17.1% meeting the criteria for moderate impairment.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 30-50% of people who suffer from bipolar disorder will develop a co-occurring substance abuse disorder in their lifetime.
What to Look for
Common symptoms of bipolar disorder include:
- During manic episodes, someone will be uncharacteristically upbeat, jumpy, or impulsive
- A dramatic change in sleeping patterns, sometimes even going without sleep
- Poor, impulsive decisions or suddenly into high-risk behavior
- During depressive episodes, someone will be uncharacteristically hopeless, deeply sad, have a shocking lack of energy
- Loss of energy, apathetic behavior
- Thoughts of suicide
- Significant changes in diet and weight
- Short memory or inability to retain details
Due to the serious, chronic natural of bipolar and the unusual changes in mood, energy, and activity levels that accompany the condition, early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of bipolar disorder are important.
Featured Article: How do I know if i have bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder is one of the most misunderstood mental health disorders in society today. It can be difficult for professionals to diagnose.
Forging Forward with Hope
If you or someone you love may be struggling with bipolar disorder, we’re here for you. Our compassionate team of experts at The Meadows Outpatient Center is waiting to help you continue your journey toward long-term recovery that focuses on the whole person. For more information, don’t hesitate to reach out today.