Are there days when you wake up feeling energized, full of life and ready to take on the world. And yet, on other days you feel very sad and depressed, often without any identifiable reason? Do you find yourself stuck in one of these moods for days, weeks or even longer? Do these mood changes create difficulties sleeping, staying focused, or performing normally routine tasks?
People who suffer from these or similar symptoms may have Bipolar Disorder. This is a serious mental illness that should not be taken lightly. However, if treated effectively, people who suffer from bipolar disorder can manage their symptoms and live productive lives. The counselors and therapists at Thriveworks Franklin have years of experience helping people with Bipolar disorder with the care and support needed in order to live a happy, fulfilled life.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar Disorder has been formally known as manic-depression due to swings from a low, depressed mood to a high, frenetic mood. It affects almost 6 million people in the United States alone. The causes are not clearly understood, but both environmental and genetic factors play a role. Environmental contributors to Bipolar Disorder include a history of childhood abuse, other recurring trauma and long-term stress. However, some research has shown that approximately 85% of cases of Bipolar Disorder can be attributed to genetic factors.
Bipolar Disorder’s Signs
People with Bipolar Disorder do not experience the same daily ups and downs as most individuals do as they go through their daily routine. Someone with Bipolar Disorder experience mood swings that are more extreme and are often accompanied by changes in sleep, energy level, eating patterns, spend habits and disruption in judgment. Bipolar symptoms can have a significant, negative impact on personal and professional relationships. People experiencing these symptoms may have severe difficulty performing typical tasks required at home, school or work.
Drastic shifts in moods associated with Bipolar Disorder can be bewildering to the person suffering from them as well as their loved ones and co-workers. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) operationally defines the depressive cycle of Bipolar Disorder as excessive weeping, sadness, an empty state of mind and an unconcerned attitude about daily life. Further, the individual diagnosed with depression will experience at least three of the following symptoms:
- The inability to focus or make decisions;
- Depleted energy and/or stamina;
- Hyper or slowed psychomotor activity (for example, slurred speech or rapid toe tapping);
- Insomnia or hypersomnia (excessive sleeping or an inability to sleep);
- Harsh emotions such as guilt, shame, and worthlessness;
- Shifts in appetite or weight—either an increase or decrease;
- Suicide idealization and/or a fixation upon death.
A person in the depressive cycle of Bipolar Disorder will manifest these criteria for a greater portion of every day and for a continuous period of at least two.
During the manic cycle of Bipolar Disorder, people experience euphoric energy, but corresponding flood of emotions often leads to irritability and agitation.
The following criteria is detailed in the DSM-5 for a mania cycle:
- An exceptionally euphoric or contentious mood that persists for at least a week;
- When the mood is contentious, then four of the following signs must be present. If the mood is euphoric, then three must be present:
- Obsessively planning for personal and professional goals;
- The inability to slow one’s thinking;
- Taking unnecessary financial, emotional, physical, or sexual risks;
- Feeling energetic with very little sleep;
- Shifting attention quickly from one topic to another;
- Talking excessively;
- An enlarged sense of one’s own grandiosity and self-esteem.
- To be considered mania, these signs must also be disruptive to an individual’s daily functioning.
Certain unhealthy behavior patterns can be associated with aberrant mood episodes. Excessive drinking and drug use often accompany mood swings. Risk taking, spending an unusual amount of money or having reckless sex can often be signs of mania. Students with bipolar disorder have trouble keeping a job or doing well in school. These behavior problems can severely hurt relationships and damage lives.
Treating Bipolar Disorder
Presently, there is no cure for bipolar disorder. However, there are treatment strategies that have demonstrated to give significant relief from symptoms and have helped individuals with Bipolar Disorder to regain control of their lives. Steady, dependable treatment has been shown to have better results than treatment that starts and stops.
Treatment options include:
- Medication. While there are several types of medication options, people vary in how they respond to certain medications. Individuals need to work with a trained psychiatric professional to determine the best medication treatment option for them.
- Therapy. Different kinds of psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy, can help people with Bipolar Disorder. Cognitive behavior therapy has been shown to be very helpful in gaining control over symptoms. Support groups are another form of treatment that has had a significant measure of success for many people. In these groups, people with Bipolar and/or their loved ones can empathize with others who have may similar experiences and difficulties. These groups can take place in-person or online. Family-focused therapy, psychoeducation, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy are other forms of therapy that have produced evidence of efficacy in regard to relapse prevention reduction of symptoms.
Appointments at Thriveworks Franklin
The behavioral health professions at Thriveworks Franklin have years of training and experience treating Bipolar Disorder. They have been selected to be part of the Thriveworks Franklin team because of the competency of their clinical skills and their caring, supportive nature. And Thriveworks works without waiting lists. New clients often have an appointment within 24 hours of their first call. We also offer evening and weekend appointments and accept most forms of insurance. So, if you or a loved one suffers from bipolar symptoms, contact Thriveworks Franklin today at 617-360-7210.