Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes extreme changes in mood, energy and activity levels. Currently 3% of the adult population in the U.S. suffers from bipolar disorder with 80% of these cases categorized as severe. Bipolar disorder can impact the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks and maintain relationships, and it can increase the risk of suicide if it’s not treated or is treated incorrectly.
During manic episodes, an individual may feel elated, experiencing periods of “up” and energized behavior, for most of the day every day for at least one week. The depressive “down” episodes are the opposite, where you may be very sad and feel hopeless for most of the day every day for at least two weeks.
More Information About Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder symptoms vary depending on the episode an individual is experiencing at the time. Manic episodes make the individual feel abnormally and persistently happy, angry, hyperactive, impulsive and irrational at different times. In a manic episode, symptoms last at least one week and may be severe enough to require treatment in a hospital. Other symptoms of mania include:
- Feelings of special powers and superiority
- Restlessness, decreased need for sleep
- Talking excessively
- Increased activity
- Racing thoughts
- Short attention span
- Inappropriate laughing or joking, or getting into lots of arguments
- Inappropriate spending sprees or sexual activity
- Impulsive or risky behavior
Those with bipolar disorder also experience depressive episodes, during which they feel very sad and have trouble doing ordinary things like bathing, getting dressed and cooking. Depressive episodes last at least two weeks. Other symptoms of depression include:
- Weight loss or gain (due to changes in how much you eat)
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Feeling irritated easily
- Fatigue, loss of energy, sluggishness
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Individuals with bipolar disorder can also experience hypomania, which is less severe than mania but causes an abnormal change in mood. As opposed to manic episodes, hypomania may not seriously affect daily activities and some people actually function better during a hypomanic episode. Hypomania should be treated with medicine to avoid leading to a manic or depressive episode.
Treatments for Bipolar Disorder
Treatment for bipolar disorder is designed to minimize the frequency of the manic and depressive episodes. With the right treatment, even patients suffering from the most severe forms of bipolar disorder can gain better control of their mood swings. Long-term, continuous treatment of bipolar disorder can include a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) can also provide relief for people with severe bipolar disorder who have not been able to recover with other treatments. ECT may also be used in patients who have other medical conditions (such as pregnancy) that make taking medications risky. TMS has also been found to help bipolar depression. Our doctors provide compassionate, patient-centered care, and together we’ll find the right treatment.