What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder is characterized by cycles of “highs” and “lows.” The “high” points of the cycle leave people feeling energized, elated, and confident. “Low” points involve varying levels of depression, loss of interest, hopelessness, and feelings of dread. Each episode may last a week to several months, depending on the type of bipolar disorder a person experiences. Symptoms are reported most days during an episode and may fluctuate in intensity over time.
There are several types of bipolar disorder, including:
- Bipolar I: Episodes of manic behavior followed by deep depression
- Bipolar II: Episodes of severe depression followed by hypomania
- Cyclothymic Disorder: Cycles between depression and hypomania with less severe symptoms than bipolar II
The frequency of symptoms and how they manifest vary from person to person. However, most depressive, manic, or hypomanic states last for between a week and several months.
Symptoms and Side Effects of Bipolar Disorder
The specific symptoms and side effects a person experiences depend on various factors, including age, gender, genetics, and medical history. In addition, manic and depressive episodes each have unique symptoms and may fluctuate in duration or intensity.
Some of the most common symptoms and side effects of bipolar disorder during a manic episode include:
- Feeling energized or unusually hyperactive
- Increased irritability and uncharacteristic aggression
- Feeling elated
- Racing thoughts
- Faster speech patterns
- Insomnia, difficulty staying asleep, or feeling a reduced need for sleep
- Feeling unusually capable and powerful
- Engaging in risk-taking and impulsive behaviors
Some symptoms and side effects people report during depressive episodes include:
- Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or helplessness
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or oversleeping
- Difficulty focusing
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Slowed speech patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Suicidal ideations
- Self-harming thoughts or behaviors
Psychological health has a direct effect on physical health. According to MedlinePlus, BD and other “Mood disorders can increase a person’s risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases.” The more severe side effects may be avoided by early intervention and treatment.
How to Help a Loved One With Bipolar Disorder
Many people with bipolar disorder go through periods where they feel on top of the world and invincible. People experiencing a manic episode may not recognize the need for treatment. On the other hand, during depressive episodes, it might feel too overwhelming to reach out for help even if they feel hopeless and want treatment. Family and friends can help their loved ones by staging interventions, providing details on local treatment programs, and educating themselves about the realities of bipolar disorder. Friends and family must often prompt loved ones with bipolar disorder to get the treatment they need to manage their disorder.
Bipolar disorder affects many aspects of a person’s life, including relationships and family dynamics. Family members and friends show their love and support by providing the following:
- Practical assistance, including locating treatment options or providing transportation to appointments
- Emotional support before, during, and after treatment
- Motivation and inspiration to continue making positive lifestyle changes throughout treatment
Families affected by bipolar disorder benefit from engaging in professional mental health treatment. Currently, no cure exists for bipolar disorder. However, the condition can be successfully managed using a combination of psychotherapy and prescription medications.
Treating Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder and Bipolar Disorder at Avery Lane
Avery Lane treats primary and secondary mental health disorders, including dual diagnosis involving substance misuse and bipolar disorder. The programs provide multiple levels of care, including:
- Medically assisted detox
- Residential treatment (RTC)
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Sober living support
Clients collaborate closely with the care team to ensure they receive the level of support they need to heal. Clinicians use the following treatments and services to help women struggling with bipolar disorder:
- Brain Spotting
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Alternative holistic therapies
Treatment generally involves addressing any active and underlying issues simultaneously using integrative and complementary care. Many people with bipolar disorder have underlying trauma affecting their mental health and overall well-being. The clinicians at Avery Lane are experts at treating trauma and offer a variety of additional trauma-focused treatments and services.
Aftercare Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
Individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder may need to take medications or attend individual therapy long-term to manage their condition. According to NIMH, “Although symptoms may come and go, bipolar disorder usually requires lifelong treatment and does not go away on its own.”
Some of the most common prescription medications used to manage BD include the following mood stabilizers:
- Lithium (Lithobid)
- Valproic acid (Depakene)
- Divalproex sodium (Depakote)
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Equetro, etc.)
- Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
Avery Lane also uses energy healing and naturopathic medicine to help clients achieve greater mood stabilization. The treatments provide a solid foundation for the transition into ongoing recovery.
Untreated bipolar disorder impacts many areas of a person’s life, including professional and personal relationships. Early intervention and treatment are the best way to reduce side effects and manage the condition successfully. Avery Lane uses evidence-based and alternative holistic therapies to help clients manage mental health disorders and dual diagnosis. To learn more, call us at (800) 270-2406.