Sadly, bipolar disorder is sometimes treated as a joke, or as a simple way of referring to someone who has typical mood swings. Unfortunately, that often makes it difficult for people to know when they truly suffer from the disorder or recognize when they need bipolar disorder treatment. At Solara Mental Health we treat bipolar disorder in San Diego as no joke.
Bipolar disorder is less commonly known as manic-depressive illness. It’s a brain disorder that makes it difficult to carry out daily tasks and also causes shifts in energy and mood.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is organized into four primary types:
Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes that are severe. These episodes last at least a week, they are sometimes so serious that the patient requires hospital care. Depressive episodes also occur, usually lasting two weeks or longer. It’s also possible to experience mixed periods, with depressive and manic symptoms at the same time. If this describes you or a loved one, treatment for bipolar disorder can help.
Bipolar II Disorder is very similar, although the manic episodes are not as extreme. This type can be a little harder to recognize and diagnose, but treatment of bipolar II can be just as helpful.
Cyclothymic Disorder is also known as cyclothymia. It’s defined by hypomanic periods with depressive periods lasting at least two years (or one year in children and teenagers).
Other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders is an umbrella term for any bipolar disorder symptoms that do not match the other three categories.
Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder
It can be challenging for people with bipolar disorder to receive a proper diagnosis – about half of those diagnosed get three professional opinions before being correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and on average, it takes a decade for people to begin treatment after symptoms begin. Often, the depression overwhelms the manic periods and appears to be the sole factor. In fact, about a fifth of people who believe they have depression actually have bipolar disorder. When substance abuse is involved, that can be blamed for mood swings that are actually attributable to the underlying disorder. Additional psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety, also can make diagnosis difficult.
A manic episode will include three or more of the following symptoms: being abnormally upbeat or wired, increased energy or agitation, exaggerated sense of self-confidence, decreased need for sleep, unusual talkativeness, racing thoughts, distractibility and poor decision making. It could also trigger psychosis. A hypomanic episode is less severe but includes the same symptoms.
A major depressive episode usually follows a manic or hypomanic episode. It includes at least five of the following symptoms: depressed mood, loss of interest in typical activities, a significant change in appetite or weight, change in sleep patterns, slowed behavior, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or extreme guilt, indecisiveness and suicidal ideation.
If this sounds like you or someone you care about, you should seek help for the treatment of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Disorder Treatment
Luckily, mental health treatment centers for bipolar disorder are available and staffed with professionals who can help you move forward. At a bipolar residential treatment center, you’ll receive counseling and any necessary medication, while learning strategies to move forward in your life without letting your bipolar disorder hold you back.
When bipolar disorder is untreated, it can lead to major problems, such as substance abuse, suicide, damaged relationships and loss of work. Many people with bipolar disorder also develop co-occurring conditions such as physical health problems, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). That’s why seeking out professional help with your bipolar disorder is so important.
For veterans with bipolar disorder, Solara Mental Health offers a therapy group that provides additional education and support. The bipolar therapy group is led by one of our expert clinicians, who will provide members with the most up-to-date research on all aspects of bipolar disorder. In this supportive, safe environment, veterans will also build on concepts brought up in individual psychotherapy, practicing ways to accept their diagnosis, recognize the symptoms of their disorder and stabilize their mood before becoming manic or depressive. Working with their peers in a nonjudgmental, understanding environment, veterans develop and practice the concrete tools needed to help them live stable, whole, fulfilling lives.
A diagnosis of bipolar disorder can feel overwhelming. In pop culture, the disorder is often presented as all-consuming, and people who have it can feel ostracized and like they are “crazy.” This is not true. Just like any other disease, your bipolar disorder is not your fault. The feeling of not having control over your own emotions or actions is scary, and we understand that. By searching for help, you’re already taking concrete steps toward getting better. Once you check into a treatment center, you’ll find yourself more capable of taking control.
For more information about our bipolar group, or about any other therapy groups offered at Solara Mental Health, please contact us.