Bipolar Disorder

Understanding Bipolar Disorder and Treatments

We’re not always in control of our emotions. Losing a best friend or loved one could fill us with immeasurable sadness. Someone cutting us off in traffic during rush hour could make us frustrated. Mood swings are normal, even if they cycle throughout the same day.

What happens when you feel extreme bursts of excitement, only to feel waves of crippling depression afterward? Maybe you go out on a shopping spree and max out your credit card, only to feel extreme buyer’s remorse afterward. What if this is highly uncharacteristic, and ordinarily, you are pretty frugal?  While some may call this spontaneity, these symptoms may be signs of Bipolar Disorder.

If you feel you may have Bipolar Disorder, reach out to a licensed therapist. They will be able to diagnose you and get you the help you need BetterHelp has thousands of certified therapists ready to help you take control of your life. For more information on treatment for Bipolar Disorder, visit the link below:

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a group of brain disorders that cause extreme fluctuations between mood, energy, and ability to function. Bipolar disorder is known for episodes of mania and depression. Manic episodes are moments of extreme happiness, heightened energy levels, and a lack of inhibitions that lead to reckless or life-threatening actions. Depressive episodes are moments of crippling sadness, lack of interest or appetite, and excess of sleep.

Bipolar Disorder is categorized by manic and depressive episodes’ intensity and duration. Based on how long each manic episode lasts, bipolar disorder can fall into one of three categories:

Bipolar 1 Disorder

Bipolar 1 is categorized by having a manic episode that lasts more than seven days. Patients with Bipolar 1 can experience highly elevated emotions and restlessness. They may have an overabundance of energy and may not sleep for several days at a time. Bipolar 1 is the most dangerous of the manic states since it’s the most severe and long-lasting.

Bipolar 2 Disorder

Bipolar 2 also less severe manic episodes than Bipolar 1, lasting four days and may be followed by depressive episodes. Patients who have Bipolar 2 may feel deep remorse from their manic episodes that trigger depressive episodes.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic Disorder is categorized with brief moments of manic and depressive states. These highs and lows aren’t as extreme as the other Bipolar types and can often go undiagnosed because of their mild symptoms.

These episodes aren’t necessarily sequential. Many people with Bipolar disorder can have a manic episode, then come back to a normal state, followed by a depressive or another manic episode.

What are some symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder consists of many symptoms. The DSM-5 states that a person must show at least 3 of the following symptoms for manic episodes.

  • Feelings of grandeur or inflated self-esteem
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Racing thoughts
  • Extreme lack of focus, unable to finish tasks
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Attempting uncharacteristic actions or destructive behavior

For the depressive states, the criteria are higher. A person must show at least 5 of the following symptoms to be diagnosed with a major depressive state.

  • Low self-esteem
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling worthless or guilty
  • Indecisiveness
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Decrease of appetite
  • Major weight loss
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

What are some treatment options for Bipolar Disorder?

Treatment for Bipolar disorder is available but ranges between manic and depressive symptoms.

Manic Episodes

Unfortunately, therapy does not help someone during a manic state. Patients in this state are at the highest risk of causing harm to themselves or others. The most common treatment for manic episodes is medication. Lithium Salts are the most common treatment and most effective. Lithium salts are mood stabilizers that dampen the extremities of a manic episode.

One drawback of lithium salts is that they may trigger a person into a depressive episode because they’re mood stabilizers. Also, lithium salts can dehydrate users and cause problems in the thyroid and kidneys.

Depressive Episodes

Patients going through a depressive episode are usually given antidepressants, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors or SSRIs. SSRIs aren’t perfect because they may trigger a manic episode. For this reason, patients must be carefully monitored by a licensed psychiatrist whenever undergoing a medication plan.


While talk therapy may not be effective during manic states, it can improve a patient’s life if administered after or before manic states occur. Therapists can use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to address a patient’s actions and behaviors during a manic state and make a plan to minimize potential damage, whether physical, financial, or otherwise.

Family therapy can have the most positive effect on patients with Bipolar disorder. In Family therapy, every family member gains the tools to help patients through their episodes. Therapists can teach families to respect boundaries and recognize signs of oncoming episodes. Families can learn to reduce stress levels and coordinate together, preventing a triggered episode.

Final Thoughts

Bipolar Disorder can be crippling for an individual and heartbreaking for families who don’t understand its implications. If you feel you have Bipolar disorder, help is available. Reach out to a licensed therapist specializing in CBT, Family Therapy, or works with patients with Bipolar Disorder.

Written by Marie Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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