Bipolar disorder is a very common mental disorder, with approximately 2.8% of U.S.adults (about 5 million people) being diagnosed with it. While many people are aware that bipolar disorder is characterized by mood and energy swings, there is much more to this mental disorder than most people are aware of.
Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a chronic mental disorder that induces dramatic changes in an individual’s mood and energy levels.
An individual suffering from this mental illness may experience periods of elevated mood as well as episodes of depression. This condition is known as “bi-polar” disorder because the individual switches between two opposite emotions—these extreme emotional states are typically experienced over days to weeks and are referred to as mood episodes.
Despite experiencing periods of neutral mood, individuals with bipolar disorder are often either unnaturally happy—this mood episode is known as manic, or they experience depression—characterized by feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, and sad. Individuals who do not have bipolar disorder undergo mood fluctuations as well, but they return to their usual self within a few hours, while those who do have this psychiatric disorder do not.
Those who do not have bipolar disorder also do not exhibit an extreme degree of behavioral changes. Individuals with bipolar disorder, on the other hand, are driven by their impulses—their mood swings can cause them to think and behave impulsively, which can have an adverse impact on their personal and professional lives. For example—during manic episodes, they may experience extreme euphoria and make reckless purchases, quit their job, or even start abusing illicit substances. During a depressive episode, however, they may experience bouts of self-hatred, lethargy, and hopelessness.
Bipolar disorder usually runs in families and can be passed down from a parent to a child. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), if an individual’s parents and siblings have bipolar disorder, they are 4 to 6 times more likely to develop this mental condition. This means that genetics play a significant role in determining the inheritance of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is typically classified into two groups: Bipolar I and Bipolar II. Though both groups are characterized by manic and depressive mood swings, the intensity of these mood swings separates them from each other.
While an individual with bipolar I goes through a full-blown manic episode, someone with bipolar II only has a hypomanic episode, which is far less severe. Furthermore, an individual with bipolar I is much more likely to have a minor depressive episode, while those with bipolar II may experience significant and lasting depressive episodes.
An individual with bipolar I is likely to experience at least one manic episode in their life, which may be preceded by a depressive or hypomanic episode. There is often a pattern in which the patient experiences depression followed by mania—this cycle of episodes is known as “manic depression.” The manic episode typically lasts at least seven days, while the depressive episode can persist for as long as two weeks.
The mania that an individual may experience is far from a typical spike in energy and motivation levels. Their abnormal high-spiritedness is noticeable to family and friends who have seen them in their normal state. This ecstatic mental state may cause problems for the individual in school, college, work, and relationships, and in some extreme cases, they may even need to be hospitalized.
Typically, the signs of bipolar I manifest in individuals in their teens or early twenties. These signs include:
An individual with bipolar II experiences at least one hypomanic, or major depressive episode in their lifetime. Although the depressive episode typically lasts about two weeks, the individual does not experience intense manic episodes.
Since individuals with bipolar II go through major depressive episodes, their mental state is often misdiagnosed as depression. Bipolar II is also misunderstood as a milder form of bipolar I, but this is a false notion. And, while manic episodes can be dangerous and lead to hospitalization, depressive episodes in bipolar II are just as serious as they continue for more extended periods.
These major depressive episodes make it difficult for individuals to carry out day-to-day responsibilities. The following are some of the most common symptoms of bipolar II:
Though bipolar disorder is an incurable condition, the severity of its symptoms and manic and depressive episodes can be significantly reduced with the proper treatment.
However, people often disregard psychological assistance because they are unaware of the adverse effects of their emotional distress on their personal and professional relationships.
The problem becomes much more severe as people begin to embrace their bouts of mania, during which they experience previously undiscovered energy and enthusiasm. Most people do not realize that this euphoria is typically followed by an unwanted emotional crash that is highly unpleasant.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance to seek Evidence-Based Treatment (EBT)—such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)—in order to lower the impact of bipolar disorder and disempower it from influencing personal decisions.
Related Blog: What is Evidence-Based Treatment?
If you are experiencing the lows of depression and the highs or irritability of mania or hypomania, you can seek professional telehealth mental health counseling sessions from RDU counselors in Wake County. Due to the current COVID situation, RDU Counseling for Change is offering online therapy in Raleigh, NC. From individuals and couples, to family therapy, our counselors are offering help to everyone suffering from Bipolar I and II Disorder.
If you have any questions or want to book your Raleigh therapy session, feel free to contact us at (919) 713 0260.