Bipolar Disorder, formerly called Manic Depression, is a mental illness associated with dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and the ability to think clearly. Individuals with Bipolar Disorder experience repeated and significant mood swings, or ‘episodes’, that can make them feel very high (manic) or very low (depressive). These moods differ from the typical ups-and-downs most people experience.
The condition affects men and women equally, impacting approximately 2.8% of the U.S. population. The average age of onset is 25, but it can also occur in teens. With a good treatment plan including therapy, medications, and a healthy lifestyle, individuals can manage their symptoms effectively.
Definition of Bipolar Disorder
There are three types of Bipolar Disorder, according to NIH | National Institutes of Mental Health:
Bipolar I Disorder: when people experience one or more episodes of mania. Most people diagnosed with Bipolar I have episodes of both mania and depression, though an episode of depression is not necessary for a diagnosis. To be diagnosed with Bipolar I, manic episodes must last at least seven days or be so severe that hospitalization is required.
Bipolar II Disorder: when depressive episodes shift back and forth with hypomanic episodes, but never a “full” manic episode.
Cyclothymic Disorder: a chronically unstable mood state in which people experience hypomania and mild depression for at least two years. They may have brief periods of normal mood, but these periods last less than eight weeks.
In addition, some individuals experience symptoms of Bipolar Disorder that do not exactly match the three categories listed above, and are referred to as “other specified and unspecified Bipolar Disorders”.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
According to the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), symptoms of Bipolar Disorder break down into manic and depressive symptoms, depending on what kind of episode is happening. During an episode, the symptoms listed below may last every day for most of the day, and episodes may last for several days or weeks.
It can sometimes be more difficult to identify symptoms of Bipolar Disorder in teens than in adults since moodiness is common in teens anyway. If you or a loved one are experiencing any symptoms, be sure to check with a behavioral health professional who can rule out Bipolar Disorder or make an official diagnosis.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Bipolar Disorder
Most scientists agree that there is no single cause of Bipolar Disorder and it’s likely that multiple factors contribute to an individual’s chance of having the illness. Factors that may increase the risk of developing Bipolar Disorder, or act as a trigger for the first episode include:
Having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with the disorder
Periods of high stress, such as the death of a loved one or other traumatic event
Drug or alcohol abuse
Treatment For Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar Disorder is very treatable. Medication or a combination of therapy and medication are used to manage the disorder over time. Since people respond to treatment in different ways, those with Bipolar Disorder may need to try different combinations of medications and therapy before finding the plan that works for them.
Bipolar Disorder doesn't get better on its own. If you or a loved one have any of the symptoms of depressive or manic episodes listed above, see a behavioral health professional. Treatment can help keep your symptoms under control.
Do you or a loved one have symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?
Telemynd is a nationally delegated telebehavioral health provider for Tricare members. You can access licensed psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and therapists who can diagnose and provide treatment for Bipolar Disorder from the convenience of your home. Click here to find your current insurance provider to request an appointment today!