Diagnosing and Treating Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar, or manic-depressive illness, is a mental disorder that triggers extreme shifts in an individual’s moods, and energy levels thus affecting their abilities to handle day-to-day living.

The disorder is characterized by clear changes in mood that range from periods of an individual being extremely energized and manic, to periods of being sad, hopeless, and depressed.  Some individuals experience cycles of hypo-manic episodes that are less severe. In others, the mood swings become mixed, causing the person to feel elated and depressed simultaneously.

Bipolar disorder is not a rare diagnosis, though it can be difficult to diagnose, especially in the young. A 2005 study found that 2.6 percent of the US population, more than 5 million people, live with some degree of the disorder. Symptoms tend to present themselves in the late teenage or early adult years, with women more likely to be diagnosed than men.

Symptoms of Mania

During a manic bipolar phase, it is common for a person to have heightened feelings of energy, euphoria, and creativity. Talking non-stop and needing little or no sleep is another sign of being in a manic phase. Individuals often feel all powerful and destined for greatness. Often during a manic phase, the person finds themselves out of control and engaging in reckless behavior such as gambling, risky sexual behavior, or over-spending.

Mania also can result in a person becoming angry, irritable, and aggressive. Some may lash out and pick fights when others refuse to go along with their ideations; blaming others if they criticize their behavior is also quite common.

Symptoms of Bipolar Depression

Bipolar depression can be significantly different from regular depression in that many people suffering from it do not respond to antidepressants. Recent research suggests that people suffering from bipolar depression can be triggered into mania or hypo-mania by the use of antidepressants. There is increased evidence that antidepressants used to treat bipolar depression can interfere with other mood stabilizing drugs and cause rapid cycling between mood states.

Bipolar depression is more likely than regular depression to present itself as irritability, guilt, and unpredictable mood swings. In addition, during a bipolar depression cycle, a person may speak slowly, require a lot of sleep, and gain weight. There is also a chance that the person will develop psychotic depression where they lose touch with reality and experience extreme difficulties with work and social situations.

If you suspect someone you know is suffering from bipolar disorder, screening is the first step toward remission.

How to Diagnose Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is frequently misdiagnosed especially in its early stages if they present during a person’s teenage years. When incorrectly diagnosed, the disorder can worsen due to incorrect treatment protocols.

Bipolar treatment, including for bipolar anxiety, begins questioning to determine current symptoms. It is necessary to determine how long they been occurring and how they disrupt life. Detailed personal and family medical histories are required, as well as histories of drug and/or alcohol and physical abuse. Any bipolar diagnosis will take into account the persons medical history and medications, legal and illegal, that have been taken.

For an exact diagnosis, doctors/clinicians use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Five (DSM-5). Research is ongoing, and it is important for diagnostic and treatment purposes to stay up-to-date with new findings about Bipolar Disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Bipolar Disorder and associated behaviors are a lifelong condition. However, with an effective treatment plan, which typically includes the right combination of medication and psychotherapy, most people with the disorder can learn to effectively manage their lives.

The correct medication can help control symptoms, but the wrong ones can lead to negative side effects, including suicide, particularly during a depressive episode. It is critical that medications be administered with the greatest care and supervision. Typical medications include mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics.

Any medication is recommended to be combined with some form of psychotherapy to provide support, education, and guidance to people with bipolar disorder as well as their families.

Bipolar therapy treatments include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Family-focused therapy
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
  • Psycho-education

Because the Bipolar Disorder shares many symptoms associated with other mental disorders, it is often misdiagnosed as:

  • Unipolar (major) depression
  • Anxiety
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Eating Disorder
  • Personality Disorders

At Braden Counseling, we are committed to helping people by helping them to first understand what is happening to them, we are here to help. If you feel like someone you know needs evaluation for bipolar disorder, please contact us immediately. We can help you and your loved one get your lives back in order. We have five convenient locations in Sycamore, Rochelle, Elgin, Geneva, and Bartlett.