Bipolar Disorder Typically Starts in a Person’s Late Teens
Do you or a loved one experience alternating emotional episodes ranging from elation and high energy to severe depression and fatigue, and you can’t figure out why? It could be due to a clinical mental condition known as bipolar disorder, formerly called “manic depression”, which affects between 2% and 3% of the U.S. adult population. Bipolar disorder typically starts when someone is between the ages of 18 and 25, and it affects both men and women equally. A patient with bipolar disorder will experience abnormal moods that range from elevated, or manic, to a state of feeling severely depressed for a period of up to two weeks or more. Researchers have found that risk factors for bipolar disorder include a family history (genetic), combined with environmental triggers like living in a wealthier country or experiencing a lot of stress. When you or someone close to you suffers from bipolar disorder, it can significantly interfere with your normal daily activities and relationships.
What are the Clinical Signs of Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder can be clinically dissected into three phases: mania, mixed and a depressive phase. The mixed phase refers to instances when a patient experiences both mania and depression at the same time. The manic phase can last for up to a week or more, and is characterized by increased energy and an elevated or even irritable mood that lasts throughout most of the day. Mania is diagnosed when three or more of these symptoms are present:
- Decreased need for sleep
- Increase in goal-oriented activities
- Easily distracted
- Reckless, irresponsible behaviors
- Inflated sense of self-worth and ego
- Racing thoughts and ideas going through one’s head
Bipolar disorder can also feature “hypomanic” episodes, which feature the same symptoms but last for four days or less. During a depressive phase, patients experience five or more of these symptoms lasting for at least two weeks:
- Weight gain or loss accompanied by changes in appetite
- Fatigue or energy loss
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Depression and/or sadness that lasts most of the day
- Lack of interest in, or happiness derived from, any activities
- Changes in normal sleep patterns like insomnia or hypersomnia
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
- Recurring thoughts of death including ones related to suicide
- Restlessness or other increased bodily movements
- Severe depressive episodes that cause hallucinations and delusions
These clinical manifestations for someone with bipolar disorder can severely interfere with their ability to carry out normal daily activities and enjoy healthy relationships. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available if you or a loved one struggles with bipolar disorder, including counseling by a licensed therapist.
Bipolar Disorder Treatments Include Outpatient Counseling
While bipolar disorder cannot be cured, the good news is that it can be managed effectively through therapy counseling, or coaching, sessions and medications. When a patient undergoes counseling under the direction of a licensed therapist, it includes these proven approaches:
- Keeping a mood journal
- Learning to build positive, supportive relationships
- Designing a healthy daily routine
- Learning effective stress management skills
- Proper sleep hygiene
- Relaxation techniques
- Developing an emergency plan to deal with relapses
- Family-focused methodologies
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Medications are most always prescribed for patients with bipolar disorder. On occasion, a patient will need to undergo hospitalization in order to be stabilized if they are a threat to themselves or others. The good news is that proven bipolar disorder counseling, or coaching, techniques exist, and that they are a readily-available therapeutic approach as an adjunct to medication.
Thriveworks Henrico, VA Counselors Understand Bipolar Disorder
As we’ve seen, when you or someone you care about experiences bipolar disorder it can negatively interfere with their life. Left unchecked, bipolar disorder can disrupt your normal daily activities including relationships, schooling and job performance. You don’t have to go it alone any longer. At Thriveworks Short Pump, our compassionate and helpful counselors understand bipolar disorder and will guide you in an effort to overcome its tight grip as you develop coping skills and progress towards a renewed sense of well-being and more fulfilling life. For more information on our bipolar disorder counseling services call (804) 205-3408 today or visit our Contact page now.