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Bipolar Disorder: The Signs and Treatment

Bipolar disorder is a treatable illness marked by extreme changes in mood, thought, energy, and behavior. It is a complex disorder that affects more than two million adult Americans and requires a special treatment approach.

Here are some bipolar disorder specifics:

  • Bipolar usually begins in late adolescence, often appearing as depression during the teen years, although it can start in early childhood or later in life.
  • Bipolar disorder appears to have a genetic link.
  • Like depression and other serious illnesses, the symptoms of the disorder can negatively affect spouses, partners, family members, friends, and coworkers.
  • Bipolar disorder therapy can help people learn to cope with this illness.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health and other psychiatric authorities, bipolar disorder may include these warning signs:

Seven Signs of Bipolar Mania

  • Feeling overly happy, “high,” or elated for long stretches of time.
  • Feeling easily agitated, some describe it as feeling jumpy or twitchy.
  • Talking super fast, often accompanied by racing thoughts.
  • Extreme restlessness or impulsivity.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Unrealistic over-confidence in your abilities or powers.
  • Engaging in risky behavior, such as having impulsive sex, gambling with life savings, or going on big spending sprees.

Seven Signs of Bipolar Depression

  • Feeling sad or hopeless for long periods of time.
  • Withdrawal from friends and family, and/or a loss of interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
  • Significant loss or increase in appetite.
  • Severe fatigue or lack of energy.
  • Slow speech.
  • Problems with memory, concentration, and decision-making.
  • Thoughts or attempts of suicide, or preoccupation with death.

The patterns and severity of the symptoms of highs and lows differentiate how the disorder is classified.

Bipolar I disorder

Characterized by one or more manic episodes or mixed episodes (symptoms of both mania and depression occurring nearly every day for at least one week) and one or more major depressive episodes. Bipolar I disorder is the most severe form of the illness and is marked by extreme manic episodes. It is characterized by dramatic and clearly defined highs and lows.

Bipolar II disorder

Characterized by one or more depressive episodes accompanied by at least one hypomanic episode, with symptoms similar to a manic episode but is less severe, and must be clearly different from a person's non-depressed mood. It is characterized by subtle variations of mood: predominant depression, with brief periods (two to seven days) of feeling excessively energetic, impulsive, talkative, and/or impatient. Bipolar II disorder often tends to be less severe than Bipolar I disorder, and therefore, it can be more difficult to diagnose.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy

(CBT) is one treatment often used to treat Bipolar Disorder. CBT is a structured, conscientious method that helps a person recognize negative thoughts and behavior patterns in order to change them.

Things can get better! We can help you learn to recognize manic episodes before they become full-blown, while also teaching you new behaviors to implement during an episode. In addition, we'll help you learn how to endure depression by developing behaviors and thoughts that may help offset the negative mood. It is very important that partners and family members are involved in Bipolar Disorder therapy so that they can gain support and tools to effectively work with their loved one. Call one of our counselors today to learn more.

Struggling to deal with bipolar disorder in your family? It can get better. Call us, we can help .