Bipolar disorder is a mental health diagnosis that is often misunderstood. While media portrayals of the disorder seem to be getting better over the years, there is still more work to be done to spread accurate information on bipolar disorder symptoms and treatment.
The National Institute of Mental Health states that bipolar disorder impacts 2.8% of the U.S. population each year or 4.4% of Americans in their lifetime. Watch Dr. Karin Ryan as she discusses bipolar disorder on Twin Cities Live.
Nystrom & Associates on Twin Cities Live
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Contrary to popular belief, bipolar disorder is not being moody. Those moods typically last a few hours. Likewise, it is not just being overly emotional. So what is bipolar disorder? Bipolar disorder symptoms include distinct episodes of depression and mania. Bipolar is when an individual experiences both an episode or episodes of depression (the downs) and an episode or episodes of mania or hypomania (the highs). It used to be referred to as manic depressive. Dr. Karin Ryan outlines the symptoms of each of these distinct episodes below.
Depressive Episode Symptoms
A depressive episode is a period (at least two weeks) in which the person has a depressed mood most of the day, for almost every day. It includes symptoms such as:
- A decreased interest in activities
- Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep despite feeling tired
- Feeling tired or fatigued nearly every day
- Feeling worthless
- Decreased concentration and motivation and thoughts of death
Manic Episode Symptoms
A manic episode is a distinct period (at least one week) in which the person has an abnormally elevated mood or energy. It includes symptoms such as:
- Increased goal-directed activity (starting projects, having extreme ideas, or making substantial changes)
- Inflated self-esteem or grandiosity (believing they can do huge projects, that others need to listen to them, that they should take things over at work)
- Decreased need for sleep (staying up all night, feeling rested after 3 hours)
- Being more talkative or talking faster; and often their thoughts are racing, jumping from one thing to the next
- An elevated risk or impulsive behavior (buying 10 purses, buying a new car, starting business investments, hypersexuality, etc.)
While the manic episodes might start feeling amazing, there is almost always a “crash” when the person goes into depression. Or, when they come out of mania they must deal with the consequences of what happened during the episode.
Diagnosis & Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Getting an accurate diagnosis tends to be extremely helpful for people. It gives them understanding and they can develop skills that help them to cope. Dr. Karin Ryan notes, “Bipolar runs in families, so there is a genetic component, and it is also impacted by stress, but there is no specific cause. It can occur at any age, but it most commonly presents in the early 20s.”
In therapy, clients work to recognize their first signs of depression or mania and then use skills to help them through those periods. Medication, in particular mood stabilizers, is often a key element in the management of bipolar disorder. The number of episodes each individual experiences can vary, so it’s important to work with a mental health professional to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
A Word From Nystrom & Associates
If you or someone you know is experiencing bipolar disorder symptoms, please seek treatment as soon as possible. Nystrom offers therapy and psychiatry services for bipolar disorder. Reach us at 1-844-NYSTROM or request an appointment online.