What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder (BD) is a common, debilitating psychiatric disorder that causes an individual’s mood to fluctuate from extreme emotional highs (mania) to devastating emotional lows (depression). There is no known single cause for bipolar disorder. Experts believe a combination of brain chemistry, genetics, and physical and social environment play a role. BD presents significant challenges for those living with a diagnosis and their loved ones.
There are three types of bipolar disorder. All three types involve fluctuating moods, manic or hypomanic (a milder form of mania) episodes, and depressive episodes. Each type is identified by the length and pattern of episodes of mania and depression. Recommended treatment can vary according to the type of bipolar disorder someone has.
Bipolar I Disorder
Bipolar I disorder is diagnosed when the manic episodes last seven days or longer and begin showing psychotic features like breaks from reality. When manic symptoms are so severe, a person may require hospitalization during an episode. Depressive episodes lasting at least two weeks are also often a common feature of Bipolar I Disorder. Manic symptoms and depressive symptoms may be experienced concurrently during an episode.
Bipolar II Disorder
Instead of full-blown mania, people with Bipolar II Disorder experience recurring patterns of major depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes. While major depressive episodes usually are a feature of Bipolar I Disorder, they aren’t required to receive a diagnosis. With Bipolar II, major depression is often the more central feature. This can make it difficult to distinguish from regular depression in some cases.
Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia)
Cyclothymia is considered the most moderate form of bipolar disorder. Like other types of bipolar disorder, cyclothymia involves cyclical mood swings. However, the highs and lows aren’t considered severe enough to qualify as either mania or major depression. Symptoms must persist for a minimum of 2 years to receive a diagnosis. If left untreated, cyclothymia increases your risk of developing bipolar disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
Besides mood swings and manic states, people with bipolar disorder may experience a variety of other symptoms during both manic and depressive episodes. Common symptoms of manic episodes include:
- Changes in sleep patterns, including insomnia
- Dramatic increases in activity, energy, and agitation levels
- Feeling unusually talkative
- Hallucinations, delusions, or disturbed thinking
- Engaging in risky behaviors
- Acting out of character
On the other hand, depressive symptoms may include:
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- A decrease in energy levels
- Feelings of guilt and despair
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating and remembering things
- Increased irritability
Factors That Increase Risk of Bipolar Disorder
There are several things that can increase a person’s risk of developing bipolar disorder. Genetics represents the largest risk factor. Having a first or even second-degree relative with BD significantly increases your chances of being diagnosed. Additionally, periods of high stress, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic events, especially during childhood, can increase your risk of developing bipolar disorder.
Treatment Techniques for Bipolar Disorder
Treatment for bipolar disorder usually involves a variety of approaches to maintain the disorder long-term. Because it is a chronic illness, ongoing treatment is required. Medications can be an essential part of treatment. However, medication alone is not a cure for bipolar disorder. With ongoing treatment and the self-management skills learned in therapy, people with bipolar disorder can dramatically reduce both the frequency and intensity of symptoms.
At Life Adjustment Team, we offer a small, individualized program to give you the one-on-one attention you deserve. You will be in the program for ten hours a week throughout three days. Nine of the ten hours are spent in group settings, and then the last hour is spent with a trained clinical staff member. The outcome we strive for is to assist you in finding your goals in life, how to set those goals, and get you a plan to achieve the goals. We integrate fun into your time here at LAT in our intensive outpatient program (IOP) by bringing music, drama, and yoga into our program.
We have found this IOP approach to be extremely successful in our clients with all different types of disorders. Each disorder is different, but anyone who is suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, failure to launch, etc. is welcomed here through our IOP program or our case management program. Contact Life Adjustment Team today to find out which program is right for you.
Contact Life Adjustment Team for Bipolar Disorder Treatment Options
Our Intensive Outpatient Program significantly improves outcomes for people with bipolar disorder. We bring personalized, one-to-one support to you where you are to meet your unique healthcare needs. In addition, our hands-on group and individual Cognitive and Dialectical Behavior Therapy sessions help clients find ways to accept themselves, feel safe, and manage their emotions to help regulate potentially harmful or destructive behaviors.
Based in Los Angeles and operating for over 40 years, The Life Adjustment Team has a record you can trust when it comes to helping people with bipolar disorder, and other mental health conditions overcome their problems and make progress along their journeys to recovery. Our treatment methods follow best practice evidence-based guidelines and help our clients build structure and meaning in their lives, so they can “Learn To Live Better.” Contact our Clinical Team today to find out why we’re right for you!