Bipolar disorders cause changes to a person’s mood, energy and ability to function in daily life. People with bipolar disorders generally have normal moods disrupted by intense emotional episodes at varying times. These emotional episodes are typically categorized as manic, hypomanic or depressive.
There are three types of bipolar disorders, all of which can be treated so that the individual may go on to live a full and functional life.
Bipolar I Disorder: Bipolar I disorder causes dramatic mood swings ranging from manic to depressive. Between these two episodes, the person may feel relatively normal. During a manic episode, they may feel elated and at the top of their game. Manic episodes last at least one week and are obvious to the person’s friends or family.
Symptoms of a manic episode include:
- Higher self-esteem
- Less desire for sleep
- Talking more than usual
- Easily distracted
- Participating in multiple new activities
- Engaging in risky behaviors
Depressive episodes may last at least two weeks with the person feeling sad, hopeless or depressed.
Symptoms of a depressive episode include:
- Feeling worthless
- Loss of interest in activities
- Feelings of guilt
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Loss of energy
- Frequent thoughts of suicide
Bipolar II Disorder: Bipolar II disorder is similar to bipolar I disorder, except the manic episode is slightly different. Rather than having manic/depressive episodes, they have depressive episodes followed by a hypomanic episode. A hypomanic episode is similar to a manic episode (see above), but symptoms only last a few days. These manic episodes typically do not lead to long-term problems, but the depressive episodes can be quite severe.
People with bipolar II disorder often have comorbidities, such as anxiety or substance abuse.
Cyclothymic Disorder: Cyclothymic disorder involves many mood swings with hypomania and depressive episodes occurring relatively frequently. These individuals will have emotional ups and downs, but they will be less severe than the first two forms of bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of cyclothymic disorder include:
- Two years of depressive and hypomanic symptoms
- Mood-swing symptoms are continuous and have not paused for longer than two months
The exact cause of bipolar disorders is not known, but there are risk factors that may increase the likelihood of an individual developing it.
- Family history
- Extreme stress
- Childhood trauma
At Mile High Psychiatry, we find a combination of behavioral therapy and medication to be a suitable treatment for bipolar disorders in children and adults. Psychotherapy may help the patient better understand their illness and learn how to manage and rebuild relationships. Medication needs will vary from patient to patient, depending on the severity of their disorder. If medication is prescribed, they will be mood stabilizers to help lessen the effects of bipolar disorder.
Have questions regarding bipolar disorders for yourself or your child? Schedule an appointment with Mile High Psychiatry to learn more.