The past few weeks have been horrible for Harper. Her boyfriend cut things off, saying she was reckless and untrustworthy. Harper spend several weeks crying all day. She barely ate, but she slept all the time. A few days ago, she started feeling better—abnormally better, actually. She started working at a boutique downtown and after work, Harper goes to practice with a band she joined. Harper may be feeling great, but her friends are starting to worry. Some nights, Harper and the other band members go out, partying all night. A few times, she did not even go home before she showed up the boutique. Harper may feel fantastic, but her loved ones are rightly concerned. Both the depression and the high energy Harper has experienced may be a sign that something more serious may be happening to her—she may have bipolar disorder.
When Bipolar grips people lives, those who suffer and their loved ones can feel scared and confused about the behavior they see displayed. Many people are learning, however, that Bipolar Depression can be treated effectively, and mental health professionals are learning more and more about how the illness works. The bipolar disorder counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Boston have worked with many clients who have or think they may have Bipolar Depression. Our professionals understand how Bipolar functions, and we have helped many people find the emotional, social, and physical support they need to live the life they want.
The Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
People may call bipolar disorder manic depression because those are the two poles that people swing between: mania and depression. To be diagnosed with bipolar, people must experience both mania and depression. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) explains in further detail. According to the DSM-5, the depression phase of Bipolar Depression lasts for a minimum of two weeks wherein people feel weepy, sad, or empty mood throughout the majority of each day. They will also feel significant apathy toward daily activities. In addition, to be considered a depression phase, they must also experience at least three of these signs:
- Significant increases or decreases in their appetite or weight.
- Difficulty concentrating or deciding.
- Sleep disruptions—either sleeping too much or not enough.
- Depleted stamina and energy.
- Heightened or hindered psychomotor activity (for example, slowed or quickened body movements).
- Intense, negative emotions such as guilt or worthlessness.
- Obsessive thoughts of dying or suicide.
The opposite pole of depression is mania. The cliché manic episode is wild euphoria, but many people experience mania as irritability. The DSM-5 gives the following criteria for a manic episode:
- Abnormally heightened or irritable mood for a minimum of one week.
- Experience three of the following symptoms if the state of mind is euphoric and four symptoms if the state of mind is irritable:
- Exaggerated self-esteem.
- Functioning on little to no sleep.
- Talking more than usual.
- A racing mind.
- Distracted attention.
- Planning excessively for future events.
- Engaging in potentially harmful behavior.
- These symptoms must reach of severity of disrupting daily life, causing psychosis, or necessitating hospitalization to be considered mania.
- A drug or medication’s physiological effects cannot be responsible for the symptoms.
Within these broad categories of mania and depression, many diagnoses could be made. Bipolar disorder has many different versions and particular subcategories of diagnosis. One common type of bipolar disorder is Bipolar II. This version means people experience less severe mania (hypomania) instead of full manic episodes. However, people with Bipolar II may experience more severe episodes of depression. It is vitally important that people work with a mental health professional to find the right diagnosis and treatment plan for them.
Coping with Bipolar Disorder
Often, the first step toward healing bipolar disorder is working with a mental health professional. Following a therapist’s treatment plan and advice should always take priority. Along with working closely with a professional, here are a few tips for coping if you or someone you love has bipolar disorder:
- Be physically and socially active. Especially during a depression cycle, people will be tempted to withdrawal, but continuing contact with friends and family members is often a key to healing. Similarly, with physical activity. Moving one’s body can be healing for both the body and the soul.
- Pursue information about your particular diagnosis. This article is a great place to start, but once you have a particular diagnosis, find out more about your particular category of Bipolar. Your therapist should be able to provide you with trusted resources.
- Ask for help. Overcoming Bipolar is easier with support. There are in-person and online support groups where people with Bipolar can support one another. Also, recruit friends and family members to be on your support team. Ask them for specific forms of help you may need.
Care for Bipolar Disorder at Thriveworks Boston
Thriveworks Boston has therapists and counselors on staff who have the experience and the training to treat bipolar disorder. And more, they care about each of their clients. We have appointments for bipolar disorder counseling available.
When you call our office, it may be helpful to know that we accept most forms of insurance. New clients usually have an appointment within 24 hours of their call, and we offer evening and weekend sessions.Let’s work together. Contact Thriveworks Boston today.