Bipolar disorder is a relatively common mental health condition in the United States and is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that about 2.8% of adults have bipolar disorder. About 83% of those cases are severe. Bipolar disorder causes extreme emotional highs (mania) and depressive lows, accompanied by extreme mood swings and shifts in energy levels and focus.
Unfortunately, bipolar disorder is a complex condition that is difficult to diagnose since it mimics other mental health disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and ADHD. Once an accurate bipolar diagnosis is confirmed, seeking treatment as soon as possible is critical to manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.
Types of Bipolar Disorder
There are three different types of bipolar disorder. Each type has a wide range of symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose and pinpoint the property type of treatment needed.
The three types of bipolar disorder are:
Bipolar Disorder l
This type of bipolar disorder involves manic episodes lasting at least 7 days or when an individual experiences manic symptoms so severe they need immediate medical attention. This type also involves depressive episodes that often last at least two weeks at a time.
Bipolar Disorder ll
This type of bipolar disorder involves depressive and hypomanic episodes, which are less severe manic symptoms. Therefore, the manic episodes are less harsh than those of Bipolar I disorder.
This third type is a recurrence of both hypomanic and depressive symptoms. However, both periods of symptoms are neither as intense nor as long in quality to qualify as distinct hypomanic or depressive episodes.
While all types of bipolar disorder involve noticeable changes in mood and energy levels, each type differs mainly in the severity and duration of the symptoms.
Signs of Bipolar Disorder
Those who have bipolar disorder will often experience intense mood swings or “mood episodes” ranging from extreme highs (mania) to deep lows (depression). A manic or depressive episode lasts most of the day and may last for days or weeks.
Both the manic and depressive bipolar disorder episodes have a variety of symptoms:
- Feeling very up, high, or extremely irritable
- More energy than usual
- Less need for sleep but still plenty of energy
- Intense urge for pleasurable activities like eating, drinking, and sex
- Feeling unusually important, talented, or powerful
- Racing thoughts
- Feeling very down or anxious
- Insomnia or sleeping too much
- Lack of interest in all areas of life
- Feeling hopeless or worthless
- Thoughts of death or suicide
The depressive side of bipolar disorder is serious, and suicide is a significant risk factor. Those with bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are at a greater risk of suicide without proper treatment.
While the above three types of bipolar are common, individuals can still experience significant bipolar symptoms outside the above three categories. Also, other factors, like drug use, can affect symptoms, making bipolar disorder more difficult to diagnose.
Supporting Someone With Bipolar Disorder
When dealing with a friend or loved one who has bipolar disorder, there are a few things that help support someone with bipolar disorder:
- Listen without judgment
- Learn all there is about bipolar disorder
- Offer emotional suport
- Recognize the warning signs of mood swings
- Establish trust
- Encourage a routine
- Stay calm during episodes
- Encourage self-care and healthy lifestyle choices
Getting through to a loved one and helping them seek the clarity, support, and tools they need to manage their bipolar by seeking professional help is ultimately the best approach.
Top 5 Bipolar Myths
Although popular culture is doing a better job depicting mental health disorders and society is becoming better educated and accepting overall, there are still many stigmas attached to bipolar based on longtime myths and misconceptions:
Here are 5 bipolar myths dispelled:
1. Bipolar l Is Less Severe Than Bipolar ll
These two types of bipolar have stark differences. While the manic is less severe with bipolar l, the depression in bipolar ll is usually much worse. Conversely, both disorders can be debilitating and interfere with the ability to function normally.
2. Substance Abuse Causes Bipolar
The exact cause of bipolar isn’t known. However, genetics, environment, and brain structure may play a role. While substance abuse can exacerbate bipolar symptoms, making it more challenging to diagnose and treat, it is not the cause.
3. Bipolar People Can’t Keep a Job
Many people with bipolar are successful in their careers and hold down a job just fine. Often, work can give people a sense of belonging, reduce depression, and increase confidence.
4. Bipolar Only Affects Adults
While children can have bipolar disorder, it’s tricky to diagnose as they are naturally temperamental and moody. More solid symptoms of bipolar appear around the teen years. On average, bipolar disorder is diagnosed by age 25.
5. Medication is the Only Treatment Option for Bipolar
While medication is helpful and essential in treating bipolar, diet, exercise, sleep, and psychotherapy also help keep symptoms at bay. Additionally, psychotherapy can help those with bipolar learn to navigate personal triggers.
Bipolar disorder typically lasts throughout a lifespan. However, with appropriate treatment, those with bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms effectively and live a normal life. Anyone grappling with bipolar disorder should call a healthcare professional immediately. If suicidal thoughts happen, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 to connect with a professional who can offer immediate help. There are many ways of dealing with bipolar disorder. The most important thing is to take that first step to get help.
Bipolar Disorder Treatments in Utah
If you believe you may be struggling with bipolar disorder, diagnosis and treatment are essential to living a happier, healthier life. Countless bipolar treatment programs in Utah specialize in various conditions, from mental health to addiction treatment programs.
Spirit Mountain Recovery is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility that provides bipolar treatment programs in Utah. We’re here to provide you with the support and resources essential to help treat and manage your bipolar symptoms. Likewise, if you struggle with bipolar and substance abuse, our facility is here to help you treat your mental health condition and provide the skills and support to live a life free of addiction.
Contact us today to treat your bipolar disorder for a happier, healthier, more balanced life.