Alex has not been feeling himself for about a year now. His family and friends are worried too. Alex started a new job about this time last year, and he took it by storm. He is the online sales manager for a pawn shop, and Alex’s first six months were on fire. He tripled his predecessor’s sales numbers. Alex worked long days with an energy that never seemed to end. He would even go out after work, partying and celebrating his success. Alex also shopped—buying anything and everything he wanted. But things changed. These days, it is as if Alex is a completely different person. His contagious energy is now a dry well. His sales numbers have dried up as well. Many days, he cannot accomplish even small tasks at work, if he even gets out of bed at all.
Alex’s friends are concerned. This dramatic change does not feel healthy, and they are wondering if something bigger may be happening to Alex. They are wondering if he may have Bipolar Depression.
“One of the things so bad about depression and bipolar disorder
is that if you don’t have prior awareness, you don’t have any idea what hit you.”
—Psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison
If you are experiencing the dramatic shift from mania to depression and back again, then you may be like Alex and one of the other six million people in the United States who have a form of Bipolar Disorder. Bipolar is a difficult diagnosis to hear, but many people are able to live happy, productive lives. They are managing their Bipolar because they are working with a mental health professional to receive a diagnosis, education, and a treatment plan.
Thriveworks Knoxville understands the strain and challenges Bipolar Disorder adds to an individual’s life, but we also understand how to overcome these. Our staff has worked with many clients who want to live their lives without Bipolar dictating the terms.
Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms of Depression and Mania
The two (bi) poles of bipolar are called mania and depression. In fact, many people refer to Bipolar Disorder as manic depression. This mental illness cycles people between mania and depression in an oft-confusing and erratic way. It is a serious diagnosis, and anyone who is affected by Bipolar Disorder deserves patience, care, and empathy for what they are fighting. Often, an important part of that care is coming to a detailed understanding of what Bipolar is and how it works. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) has outlined both cycles of Bipolar Disorder in detail.
When individuals cycle through the depression phase, they will experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, and/or weepiness that continue for the majority of the day, for a period of two weeks. Their interest in regular activities and daily life will wane, and they will also experience at least three of these symptoms:
- Powerful feelings of guilt, shame, and/or worthlessness.
- Appetite or weight changes—either a decrease or increase.
- Weakened endurance and energy.
- Rapid or slow psychomotor activity—e.g., slowed speaking or nervous tapping.
- Difficulty making decisions and focusing.
- Disruptions in sleep—insomnia or hypersomnia.
- Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death.
Bipolar Disorder has two fronts where the illness strikes. As if depression were not enough upon an individual, people who are diagnosed with any form of Bipolar will also experience episodes of mania. The stereotype of this phase is energy and happiness all the time. This cliché greatly undermines the difficulty that people who experience mania face. Further, mania can also be frenetic irritability instead of happiness. The DSM-5 details mania further:
- A frenetically high state of mind that may be either jubilant or irritated. The mood will persist for at least seven days.
- If the state of mind is happy, then three of the following signs must be present. If the state of mind is irritable, then four signs must be presented:
- Accelerated thinking that will not settle.
- A significant reduction in one’s need for sleep or rest.
- Unfocused attention.
- Obsessive and furious planning toward a goal.
- Talkativeness, especially as compared to an individual’s normal speech patterns.
- Self-aggrandizement and inflated self-esteem.
- Risky or harmful behavior.
- Drug use or medication cannot induce these symptoms.
- Mania results in at least one of the following:
- Disturbing an individual’s daily life.
- Hallucinations or psychosis.
There are a variety of subcategories that may come with any Bipolar Disorder diagnosis. For example, different versions of the illness may have more severe forms of depression or mania. Working with a therapist who is experienced with Bipolar in its many different forms is often the key to finding the right diagnosis and then the right treatment.
Treating Bipolar Disorder at Thriveworks Knoxville, TN
As you read through the symptoms of mania and depression, did any descriptions resonate with your experience? If you or someone you love has Bipolar Disorder, know that Thriveworks Knoxville has skilled and experienced therapists who have helped many patients find the diagnosis and treatment they need.
When you work with our office, know that weekend and evening appointments are available. We accept most forms of insurance, and many new clients have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call to us.
Our hope is that every Thriveworks client receives the help they need when they need it.