The mental health diagnosis of bipolar disorder refers to the severe highs and lows of manic episodes and depressive periods. Once referred to as manic-depressive disorder, those with bipolar disorder experience extreme shifts in mood, thinking, and behavior. The cycles of bipolar can last for weeks or even months and are so severe that they often affect the person’s work or school function. These mood swings or behavior shifts can make it challenging to maintain relationships, keep a job, and affect your ability to function in daily life and may lead to suicidal thoughts.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the suicide hotline at 988 or dial 911.
Manic And Depressive Episodes
Each person with bipolar disorder is different, but they will all experience periods of manic (heightened energy, euphoria) and depressive (irritability, guilt, hopelessness) actions. While the steps may look different for different patients, there is a cycle that most bipolar people experience.
The process of bipolar disorder includes severe mania, mania, hypomania, depression, and mixed episodes. Each stage has its own symptoms that can make a person feel larger than life, or experience suicidal thoughts.
Mixed episodes consist of symptoms from both mania and depression. This can be confusing to navigate because bipolar episodes usually last for longer than just one day. Many bipolar patients seek therapy to help them try to understand their impulses. Mixed episodes can look like having irritability and depressive thoughts, while also experiencing anxiety and insomnia. The combination of high energy and depressed mood leads to a higher risk of suicide.
In the sections above, we have mentioned some symptoms of different episodes. Not all bipolar patients are the same, so you may have other symptoms not listed here.
Other common symptoms include:
- Sleeping very little but still feeling energetic
- Grandious beliefs about one’s self and abilities
- Racing thoughts or quickly changing from one thought to another
- Inability to concentrate
- Impaired judgment
- Extreme productivity
- Inability to experience pleasure
- Feelings of grief or sadness
- Appetite or weight changes
- Memory problems
- Mental sluggishness
- Suicidal thoughts
Inside the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, there are different types. Bipolar I is the classic manic-depressive form of the illness. Those with Bipolar I have at least one manic episode, and sometimes one depressive episode.
Those with Bipolar II don’t experience extreme manic episodes but instead only experience hypomania. Bipolar II patients will experience severe depression in the cycle though.
This is the mildest form of bipolar disorder because patients only have cyclical mood swings and less severe symptoms than those with one or two.
Dealing With Bipolar Along With Other Mental Health Diagnoses
Many people who struggle with bipolar disorder also deal with other mental health diagnoses. This can make symptoms worse or feel overwhelming for many people and increase the risk of suicide.
Some other diagnoses that those with bipolar can also have are anxiety, ADHD, OCD, eating disorders, or psychosis. Determining family health history and past health conditions can help a specialist recommend the right treatment. Many people start out on antidepression medication, but this may not work to help the symptoms of ADHD or other hyperactive symptoms during bipolar episodes. Working to treat bipolar symptoms may take an extensive amount of time and a lot of trial and error.
Therapy For Bipolar Disorder
Navigating your symptoms can be challenging, especially when you feel that something is a good idea at one point, and regret it the next. Working with a licensed therapist can help you learn what decisions or feelings are causing your harm, and help you find the right medication to manage your symptoms.
Bipolar is a lifelong illness, but finding the right treatment methods can help make symptoms more manageable. With the right medication or therapy techniques, bipolar patients can live relatively uninterrupted lives.
Ogden Psychological Services helps patients with many mental illnesses get back to a more controlled life. We offer individual counseling, trauma therapy, neurofeedback, and couples counseling to help you in all aspects of life. Working with our team will give you satisfaction and the proper tools to handle your symptoms in the real world. We work hard to make our office feel inviting and a safe space for everyone.
Our therapists would love to work with you. Call our office or visit our location in Ogden, UT to get started.