Most of us experience occasional mood swings. However, if extreme highs and lows accompany these shifts in mood, you may have bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder is one of several types of depressive disorders that ultimately affect brain function. In the United States alone, an estimated 17.4 million people suffer from various depressive disorders.

At Seneca Health Services, our mission is to assist our patients in finding the life they want to live. Even though living with bipolar disorder is challenging, there is hope. With proper diagnosis and treatment, you can live a stable and productive life. Read on to learn more about bipolar disorder. 

What is Bipolar Disorder?

The National Institute on Mental Illness (NAMI) defines bipolar disorder as a chronic mental condition that causes extreme shifts in mood, behavior and energy levels. But these emotional episodes are much more intense than the occasional mood swings experienced by most people. For instance, feelings of overconfidence and excitement (to the point of recklessness) accompany emotional highs or mania. Many people who are manic also experience hallucinations or delusions. On the other hand, feelings of deep sadness (the same as those experienced with clinical depression) accompany emotional lows. In addition, depressive symptoms are more common than manic ones. 

When is the Average Onset Age? 

You may be surprised to learn that the average onset of bipolar disorder is the age of 25. However, symptoms may emerge earlier in the teen years or childhood (though this is uncommon). 

What Are the Different Types of Bipolar Disorders? 

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) explains that there are three types of bipolar disorders. They are as follows: 

  • Bipolar I Disorder: This disorder is characterized by manic episodes that last at least seven days or severe manic symptoms that require hospitalization. 
  • Bipolar II Disorder: This disorder is characterized by patterns of depressive and hypomanic episodes. Hypomania is milder than mania and does not include psychotic episodes. 
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: This disorder is characterized by periods of depressive and hypomanic episodes that last for two years in adults (one year in children and adolescents). 

What Are the Causes of Bipolar Disorder? 

There is no singular factor attributed to causing bipolar disorder. Instead, NAMI states that there are several factors that can lead to the development of this mental condition. 

  • Genetics: If your parents or siblings suffer from this condition, you are more likely to develop it. However, just because someone in your immediate family has a bipolar disorder does not mean that you will have it. 
  • Stress: A stressful event (like death, illness, financial problems, etc.) can trigger a manic or depressive episode. 
  • Brain structure and function: Researchers can detect subtle differences in the brain structure of those with bipolar disorder. However, it is necessary to note that brain scans cannot detect this mental condition.  

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?  

Keep in mind that bipolar disorder symptoms and their severity can vary from person to person.  According to NAMI, persons with this condition may have distinct manic and depressive symptoms, experience both extremes at once or have them in a fast progression. Furthermore, some people with bipolar disorder can go years without experiencing any symptoms at all.  

Symptoms of manic periods often include: 

  • Excessive happiness and excitement
  • Extreme changes in emotions 
  • Restlessness
  • Rapid speech 
  • Poor concentration
  • Increased energy
  • High sex drive
  • Grand and unrealistic plans
  • Poor judgment
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • More impulsive behavior
  • Less sleep
  • Less appetite
  • Greater sense of self-confidence or well-being
  • Easily distracted

Symptoms of depressive periods often include: 

  • Sadness
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Slow talking
  • Less sex drive
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Uncontrollable crying
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Irritability
  • Needing more sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Appetite changes 
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Attempting suicide

How is it Treated?

If you have bipolar disorder, you know that it is challenging. But there is treatment available to help you return to a stable and productive life. Without treatment, your symptoms will likely worsen.

Some of the ways physicians and mental health professionals recommend treating this disorder include: 

  • Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavior therapy and family therapy 
  • Medications: Mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications and antidepressants (in some cases)
  • Self-management strategies: Education and recognition 
  • Complementary health approaches to support treatment: Exercise, meditation and prayer

We Are Here for You | Seneca Health Services

If you think you may have bipolar disorder and need an ally, we encourage you to talk with our team at Seneca Health Services. There are multiple treatment options for this mental health disorder, and we personalize our patients’ care so they can receive effective treatment — no more or less than what is needed.

Our therapy professionals help patients cope with any significant problems that they are experiencing. People come to us for mental health assistance for many reasons, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, personal tragedy, depression, substance use disorders and so forth. When patients enter our therapy services, they will discover compassion, companionship, understanding and so much more. Furthermore, our therapists work in conjunction with psychiatric medical providers if medications are needed.

If you need help or have questions, do not hesitate to contact the Seneca office nearest you or use the link provided here.

Greenbrier County, West Virginia: (304) 497-0500

Nicholas County, West Virginia: (304) 872-2659

Pocahontas County, West Virginia: (304) 799-6865

Webster County, West Virginia: (304) 847-5425