What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar Disorder is a mental health illness where a person experiences fluctuating mood swings. These mood swings can include: depression, hypomania, and manic episodes. Depression related mood swings typically refer to periods of time when a person’s motivation is low, they feel helpless and hopeless that things in their will not get better,  and are isolative from others. During these times an individual’s eating and sleep patterns can fluctuate drastically. This then impacts their ability to maintain concentration. Due to changes in sleep patterns and mood fluctuations a person in a depressive episode can become irritable and/or experience anger easily. During depressive episodes people can also experience suicidal thoughts and/or engage in self-harming behaviors (cutting being one of the most common forms of self-harm). Depressive episodes can range from a few days to months on end. If you are experiencing suicidal or aggressive thoughts towards others go to your local emergency room or nearest mental health walk-in clinic for support.

Hypomania is a level below a manic episode; however, hypomania can still impact a person’s life significantly. A person can experience most of these hypomanic symptoms at one time. These symptoms include: a feeling of euphoria (on top of the world); racing thoughts which leads to slight pressured speech; irritability and/or agitation; inflated self-esteem/confidence; increase in goal-directed behaviors; decrease in sleep or need for sleep; restlessness; making poor choices; an increase in high-risk behavior (unprotected sex and large/numerous credit card purchases are examples); poor judgement; and suicidal thoughts.

A manic episode may contain the following symptoms: inflated sense of self and grandiosity that things in the world revolve around them; increased energy; pressured speech, racing thoughts, decrease need for sleep or no sleep; high-risk behaviors, impulsive decisions; poor judgement; hyper focused on tasks; increase in goal-directed behavior(s); and suicidal thoughts. 

What are the different types of Bipolar Diagnoses?

Bipolar I Disorder is classified by both a depressive episode and a manic episode. At times when a person experiences a Bipolar manic episode they may need to be hospitalized to ensure their safety. 

Bipolar II Disorder is categorized by hypomania and depressive mood episodes. A person with Bipolar II Disorder does not meet the severity of mania and thus experiences hypomania. Mood swings between hypomania and depression occur during Bipolar II Disorder. 

As always, a person’s mood can be influenced by substance or alcohol use and abuse. 

A thorough assessment is needed to diagnose a Bipolar Disorder. These should be carried out by a therapist or clinician with training and expertise in this area of mental health. We encourage readers to research therapists or clinicians near them to locate and vet providers before beginning work with them. 

At Revitalize Mental Health (link back to home page or mood disorder page) we specialize in working with Bipolar Disorders. Submit a form or call us to set up a 20-minute phone consultation to ensure we are the right fit for your needs. Click here for more information on mood disorders.

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