What is Bipolar Disorder?

In mainstream language and culture, people often use the term “bipolar” to describe someone who changes moods in a matter of minutes. This description is not an accurate portrayal of the clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Bipolar is a mood disorder that causes people to swing between manic and depressive episodes that can last for days or weeks at a time. Also known as “manic depression,” bipolar disorder is a serious mental health condition that affects a person’s mood, daily functioning, and energy levels.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

People who have manic and depressive episodes may be diagnosed with one of three types of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar 1
  • Bipolar 2
  • Cyclothymic Disorder

Bipolar 1 is the most severe type of bipolar disorder. Patients with bipolar 1 have manic periods that last at least one week and depressive episodes that last at least two weeks. In some cases, a patient may be diagnosed with bipolar 1 if their manic and depressive episodes are shorter, but the symptoms are intense enough to require hospitalization.

People with bipolar 2 also have serious shift from mania to depression. However, these episodes tend to be shorter than those with bipolar 1. Both bipolar 1 and bipolar 2 diagnoses require patients to have episodes several times per year.

Cyclothymic disorder is a diagnosis for people who experience many of the same symptoms of bipolar disorder, but do not quite meet the rigid diagnostic criteria. For example, they may only have one or two manic episodes per year.

All forms of bipolar disorder are serious and people who live with these conditions deserve high-quality mental health care.

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder experience different symptoms depending on whether they are in a manic or depressive episode. In general, depressive episodes closely mimic other forms of depression. Manic periods are marked by impulsivity, risk-taking behaviors, and excessive energy.

Depressive Symptoms

  • Low energy levels
  • Avoiding favorite activities and hobbies
  • Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
  • Empty or detached feelings
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you or someone you know experience suicidal thoughts, contact emergency services or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Manic Symptoms

  • High levels of energy
  • Insomnia
  • Excessive, impulsive risk-taking
  • Extreme elation
  • Beliving oneself to be superhuman
  • Irritability
  • Racing thoughts

Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder

Living with bipolar disorder can feel isolating and confusing. However, getting help from a team of mental health care providers can relieve these feelings and help people live healthy lives. Treatment options include:

  • Talk Therapy
  • Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy
  • Psychiatric Care
  • Life Charts

Most people with bipolar disorder can receive treatment through teletherapy and telepsychiatry. These telehealth services allow patients to connect with providers through secure video calls. Our software follows HIPAA regulations and allows for effective treatment from home.