Bipolar Disorder Treatment
What is Bipolar Disorder
Get a Diagnosis
Signs and Symptoms
Types of Bipolar Disorders
The Need for Treatment
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), nearly six million Americans over the age of 18 are living with bipolar disorder – or about three percent of the US population. The bad news is that there is no cure for the disorder. The good news is that there are a number of efficacious treatment methods that can help patients to learn how to manage bipolar disorder and keep the symptoms under control. This takes a good deal of work and the care and guidance of a medical and psychotherapeutic team, but with perseverance and an efficient mental health treatment program, it’s more than possible to create a balanced life when bipolar disorder is an issue.
Accepting that treatment is necessary may be the most difficult step for those living with bipolar disorder symptoms. The up and down nature of the disease means that there are some days that feel “normal.” The false impression is that the patient has control over bipolar disorder and the mood swings and violence that erupt as a result. Accepting that treatment is necessary may be difficult for the person suffering from bipolar disorder as well as family members who live with the sufferer.
If the obstacle that is the illusion of control can be overcome, the numbers show that success rates are high. The U.S. Surgeon General Report for Mental Health (2002) reports a 70 to 85 percent success rate for patients who undergo bipolar disorder treatment while 90 percent say they are very satisfied with the reduction in symptoms they experience after treatment and/or medication. Getting treatment for bipolar disorder works.
If you or someone you care about is living with bipolar disorder, we can help match you to a treatment program that can provide you with medical and psychotherapeutic care. Contact us today for information about your options or to begin the enrollment process.
What’s Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder, once known as manic depression, is a disorder that affects mood, causing abrupt and extreme shifts in behavior, energy, and activity levels that are beyond the control of the patient. These mood swings are can disrupt the ability to perform daily activities, interfere with personal relationships, cause issues at work or school, and lead up to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
According to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun;62(6):593-602, bipolar disorder usually develops and is identified in patients during the late teen and early adult years before the age of 25, though symptoms may begin anytime during childhood. Unfortunately, many patients avoid diagnosis for years because the symptoms often appear to be event- or incident-related or due to separate problems
Get a Diagnosis
It is important to diagnose bipolar disorder and begin treatment as early as possible. According to Manic-Depressive Illness: Bipolar Disorders and Recurrent Depression, Second Edition by Goodwin and Jamison, bipolar disorder symptoms worsen over time and that, without treatment, the episodes experienced will increase in frequency and intensity. The worse the symptoms get, the worse the problems the patient will experience at work and at home.
Effective treatment starts with a proper diagnosis and while early diagnosis is important in order to mitigate the effect of the disorder, it can be a difficult task for psychiatric professionals. One clue: many professionals believe that genetics play a part in the development of the disorder. If others in the family are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, this can make it easier to recognize a new case of bipolar disorder in younger family members.
In some cases, the best way to isolate a diagnosis is to rule out other possibilities and mental disorders. Some methods include:
- A physical examination. This can rule out medical causes of bipolar disorder-like symptoms, such as tumors or other brain inflammation issues.
- A neuro psych evaluation. This lengthy process means testing, one-on-one discussion, and interviews with employers, family members and others to determine the extent of symptoms.
- Second opinion. If results are inconclusive, a second opinion can help pinpoint the cause of the issues.
Signs and Symptoms
Part of why bipolar disorder is so difficult to diagnose is because the mood swings can be extremely varied. According to PubMed Health, the patient may experience extreme manic episodes (e.g., overly happy state), hypomanic episodes, depressive episodes (e.g., overly sad state), or episodes in which both symptoms of mania and depression are experienced. Angry outbursts or irritability may also be an issue. These episodes can last a long time or a short time or can manifest as a long-lasting unstable mood that fluctuates back and forth rather than obvious shifts in mood. If the mood changes last most of the day and occur almost every day or last for a week or two, it could be a sign of bipolar disorder. These mood swings can be so severe that it is impossible for the patient to function through normal, daily activities.
Behavioral signs of manic episodes include:
- Talking rapidly
- Jumping from topic to topic or action to action
- Being distracted easily
- Agitated, irritable, and jumpy behavior OR an outgoing, wired, high energy behavior
- Starting new projects or largely ambitious projects
- Irrational belief in their ability to do or accomplish tasks
- High-risk actions
- Impulsive choices without thinking through consequences
- Belief that everything is fine and there are no problems with their behavior or choices
Behavioral signs of depressive episodes include:
- Feelings of worry or emptiness
- No interest in fun activities or hobbies
- Unable to get out of bed or summon energy for basic tasks
- Shift in eating or sleeping habits (all or nothing)
- Inability to focus or make decisions
- Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts
Those with mixed state episodes can exhibit symptoms from either set of signs. Most commonly, this can mean that patients feel suicidal while also having a higher than normal amount of energy.
In some cases, any of the above episodes can result in psychosis defined by issues like delusional thinking and hallucinations. Some patients experiencing a hypomanic episode may believe that they are famous, god-like, super heroes, or rich and powerful while patients going through a depressive episode may believe that they are broke, wanted by law enforcement, hated by others, or hunted for some reason. In addition to the potential harm to self and others that these symptoms can cause, they can also result in a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia.
Types of Bipolar Disorders
Bipolar disorder is not a single disorder but encompasses a range of different specific diagnoses. According to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association, there are seven types of bipolar disorder that include:
- Bipolar I Disorder. Characterized by manic episodes and/or mixed episodes that last for days on end and may require hospitalization and medical care as well as depressive episodes that can last for weeks.
- Bipolar II Disorder. Depressive episodes are the most significant aspect of this type of bipolar disorder with shifts toward hypomanic episodes but not full mania.
- Cyclothymic Disorder. A mild form of bipolar disorder, this type is characterized by mild depression that lasts for at least two years punctuated with hypomanic episodes.
- Substance-Induced Bipolar Disorder. Those with this type of bipolar disorder experience the shifts between depressive episodes and manic episodes within a month of substance abuse or severe intoxication.
- Bipolar Disorder Associated With a Known General Medical Condition. Symptoms of bipolar disorder seem to be related to another chronic or underlying medical condition.
- Other Specified Bipolar Disorder. When the symptoms of the patient don’t match the criteria for other mood disorders and are not caused by substance abuse or a medical condition but the symptoms don’t last long enough or exactly fit the criteria for another type of bipolar disorder.
- Unspecified Bipolar Disorder. This classification is new to the DSM-V.
A diagnosis of rapid cycling bipolar disorder is possible as well, but as yet, undefined separately by the DSM. According to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry 2008 Mar;165(3):370-7; quiz 410, patients with rapid cycling bipolar disorder will experience at least four depressive, manic, hypomania, or mixed episodes in the course of a year. Some will have multiple episode shifts within a week or even a day. Many will experience their first episode at a young age and their issues with bipolar disorder are usually very severe.
The Need for Bipolar Disorder Treatment
According to the World Health Organization, bipolar disorder is one of the leading causes of disability in the world. Making sure that mental health treatment is accessible to those who have bipolar disorder becomes even more important in light of the fact that the lifespan of those who suffer from the disease is statistically reduced by 10 years on average. Additionally, NIMH estimates that one out of five people who suffers from bipolar disorder will successfully commit suicide.
Bipolar disorder is a debilitating disease. The sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the more quickly the sufferer can get his or her life back on track and repair the damage done to their marriage, their relationships with their children, and their ability to perform in the workplace. Bipolar disorder treatment offers an increased quality of life and brings a sense of enjoyment back to day-to-day experience. Additionally, receiving bipolar disorder treatment mitigates the potential for future damage to personal relationships. The earlier you get treatment, the less will have to be done in terms of mending the issues caused by bipolar disorder.
What to Expect From Different Forms of Treatment
Even an individual with the most severe mood swings caused by bipolar disorder can find relief with proper treatment. Since the disorder recurs throughout a person’s lifetime, everyone involved needs to prevent themselves from being lulled into the belief that an individual’s bipolar disorder is gone because they haven’t seen evidence of it in a long time. This false sense of security is what causes an individual and those close to them to become irregular with treatment and often leads to another major episode of the disease.
Bipolar disorder is controlled through a consistent lifelong regimen of psychotherapy, medication and lifestyle choices, including:
- Pharmaceutical Therapy. Medications are the foundation for stabilizing an individual battling bipolar disorder. Unlike many other mental health issues, bipolar disorder can be treated with a variety of pharmaceutical drugs such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics and sleeping pills. The effective dose and combination is different for every person and may take some time to optimize the results, but it is well worth the time and effort for most people with the disease.
- Bipolar Education. Understanding the mental heath problem is key to managing the symptoms. For both the diagnosed individual and their family, knowing the signs and symptoms can help ward off a major episode in the future.
- A Variety of Psychotherapy Options. Therapeutic options such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), family therapy, and social/interpersonal therapy help an individual with bipolar disorder change their negative thought patterns and improve their interpersonal skills both with loved ones and society at large.
- Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). Once known as “shock therapy” this treatment for bipolar disorder has undergone many improvements over the past few decades and now has minimal side effects. Despite improvements, this therapy option is generally only administered to individuals for whom medications and psychotherapy are not having the full desired effect.
- Continuing Support. The help of family and friends can be indispensable in dealing with the challenges of bipolar disorder. However, if an individual needs more than these people can provide, participating in bipolar support groups can also be an important piece of their treatment puzzle. This gives the individual an opportunity to connect with people in a similar situation by sharing thoughts and information.
- Daily Life Choices. The small decisions made every day can add up to helpful therapeutic assistance for bipolar disorder. Choosing healthy eating habits, exercise, stress reduction techniques, and steering clear of alcohol and drugs are essential.
Where to Find Bipolar Disorders Rehab Programs
Many individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder need a “jump start” for their treatment through either inpatient or outpatient bipolar treatment services. These therapeutic options provide intensive therapy and education to get an individual started on their lifelong journey to stability. These intensive therapies can get a patient grounded in the fundamentals of what is effective for their individual therapeutic needs.
If you or someone you love is searching for help to end the destructive cycle of bipolar disorder, give us a call today. We can connect you with a variety of bipolar disorder treatment programs around the country. These programs offer evidence-based, experienced, professional bipolar disorder treatment options. Pick up the phone and put an end to the constant emotional rollercoaster in your life.