In This Article
In This Article
When we think of swift mood swings, we think Bipolar disorder.
Nonetheless, several types of mood disorders can be diagnosed based on the symptoms, but not all of them will include bliss of mania and depression downturns.
Bipolar disorder by definition is a mental health condition in which a person experiences mood disturbance best described as mood swings.
A person suffering from this disorder would typically have periods of depression, followed by periods of euphoria and heightened energy.
There are many details regarding the symptoms to consider, and only a mental health professional is equipped with the expertise to set the accurate diagnosis followed by the right treatment.
Worldwide, the prevalence of the condition is 2.4%.
Globally, in 2017, an estimated 46 million people were affected by it (52% female and 48% male).
Research shows women are more likely to suffer from it and experience periods of rapid cycling than males. Based on the National Institute of Mental Health, the average age of onset for the disorder is 25 years.
However, the symptoms can occur in childhood and the late 40’s and 50s. It is challenging to diagnose in youth due to a child's immaturity and development, but the estimated occurrence in youth is 1–3%.
Based on the symptoms, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders differentiates 2 main types:
Both have periods of depression, followed by a period of heightened energy (mania or hypomania) and symptom-free periods.
However, a person suffering from Bipolar I disorder or Bipolar 1 disorder would have less severe symptoms of mania known as hypomania.
We can make a better distinction by understanding the signs of bipolar disorder and its symptoms.
Diagnosis of Bipolar 2 disorder includes the presence of, one or more major depressive episodes. For diagnosis of Bipolar I disorder that is not a requirement even though those symptoms may occur.
To meet the criteria for a depressive episode at least five of the following symptoms must exist:
A person experiencing a manic episode would have at least three of the following symptoms:
Mania is an exceptional burst in energy that can cause problems in any area of life.
Due to the symptoms, a person can have trouble maintaining the typical level of functioning. Manic symptoms don’t necessarily make a person happy or enthusiastic since the elevated mood can be irritable and short-tempered.
So make no mistake - a person experiencing a manic episode is not always happy and uplifted.
A common misconception is a manic person will turn into a maniac. This is a mistake. A person experiencing an episode of mania can indulge in risky behaviors like:
However, this does not make them automatically a maniac or dangerous since, with the appropriate treatment, the symptoms can be managed.
To summarize, Bipolar I disorder requires criteria for a manic episode to be met, although the symptoms for the depressive episode are not required for this diagnosis.
To satisfy the criteria for a diagnosis of Bipolar II disorder at the minimum one depressive episode has to happen and at least an episode of hypomania.
Hypomania is a less severe form of mania in which a person would experience the symptoms of mania but at a lower level. Typically a hypomanic person would be fit to continue with daily activities and wouldn’t require hospitalization.
The precise cause is unclear, but studies say genetics play a major role in it. Studies comparing the onset in identical twins (with identical gene set) and fraternal twins (not sharing the same gene set) have found that it is among the most heritable of medical disorders.
The disorder was found in 40% of identical twins compared to 10% in fraternal twins.
Besides genetic predisposition, other factors thought to have an impact are neurotransmitters and societal factors, including life stressors.
Neurotransmitters are thought to have an important role since the drugs that alter them also alleviate mood disorders. Societal factors, including stress, can contribute to the onset of symptoms but are yet to be understood how.
It is hypothesized that cortisol increases under duress and this hormone could change the brain’s functioning.
No predefined list of stressors that could set an episode of illness in motion can be defined since what a person perceives as stressful is highly individual.
This implies that becoming more resilient to life’s stress by finding a mechanism to deal with stress can affect episode onset.
This is one of the crucial roles of psychotherapy in the treatment of disorders.
Medications and psychotherapy are the accepted treatment options.
Currently, no drugs can eliminate mood disorders, but they can help manage the symptoms and decrease the risk of episode onset.
Living with bipolar personality disorder includes treatment as a lifelong process. Bipolar disorder medications, also known as mood stabilizers, need to be prescribed by a mental health professional.
Adequate treatment for this disorder requires the right kind and amount of medications to prevent further harm.
To lower the impact of the disorder on daily life, it is advised to:
Sharing reliable information about noted mood changes with the mental health provider will increase the success of treatment. It is essential to stay away from drugs and alcohol since they can trigger episodes of mania or depression.
Additionally, having a good support system can be immensely helpful as loved ones can recognize the symptom changes faster and assist in seeking help to stabilize the mood.
Psychotherapy, as previously mentioned, is a significant piece of successful treatment.
Research has shown that in the treatment, medication alone is related to lower rates of remission, more elevated rates of reappearance, and increased psychosocial ruination compared to treatment that includes some form of psychotherapy interventions.
It stands to reason that a person having such support through psychotherapy would be better able to recognize the change of symptoms on time to seek medication adjustment, gain more control over their risky behavior when in a hypomanic or manic episode and recognize and take better advantage of particular strengths, capabilities and support system resources.
Furthermore, since psychotherapy focuses on helping a person be more functional and deal with stressors in life, it can lead to a lower resurgence of symptoms and longer remission periods.
There is evidence that bipolar-specific therapy represents an essential component of illness management.
When combined with medication, bipolar-specific therapy steadily shows advantages over symptom management with medication alone, both in the areas of symptom severity and relapse potential.
This is true both for the individual or group delivered bipolar specific psychotherapy.
Finding effective ways to deal with symptoms adequately can increase the satisfaction of people suffering from it.
Finding a qualified therapist is important and worth investing your time.
Start by reaching out to your medical health care provider, friends and family to ask for recommendations.
They could know about qualified therapists in your area. Additionally, an online search can suggest many options both in your town and online.
Once you have a list of potential therapists, there are important factors to consider before executing the final decision. Start by checking:
The financial aspect should be considered as well. So the question that comes up is: Are the therapists able to accept your insurance or you will need to cover it separately?
Depending on the state you live in and other factors like the setting (in-person or online, individual or group setting, inpatient or outpatient care) the price can significantly vary.
Inpatient treatment costs are on average from $500-$3000 depending on the length of stay and the patient’s plan.
Per state data suggests that Mental health hospital stay in the highest cost state is $13,300, four times more compared to the MH stay in the lowest cost state ($2,900).
Outpatient treatment is much more affordable, ranging from $20-$250 per psychotherapy hour, $40-$70 per hour for online counseling. Treatment is necessary and can last for years, so budgeting is a crucial step.
Therapy can significantly contribute to the success of managing the symptoms, and it is worth investing time and energy in finding the best person for you.
Good treatment therapy should be able to help you learn to accept the diagnosis, recognize and manage the symptoms, find a support system within your community and become more self-reliant.
Additionally, your therapist should be able to assist you to recognize the triggers and deal with the aftermath of manic or depressive episodes (repair relationships or situations impacted during the episode).
How the therapist will approach the issues and challenges you bring to the sessions will depend on their main psychoeducation.
However, regardless of the education, they underwent you should be able to notice if it is helping you be happier and more functional despite the illness.
Therefore, when starting the therapy process it is useful to define the criteria of progress and stagnation.