Bipolar Disorder, once known as manic depression, is a brain and behavioral disorder that causes unusual and/or severe shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and in the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.
People with Bipolar Disorder experience moods of extreme highs and lows (called mania and depression) well beyond that of the average person, to the degree that these shifts make it difficult to function in everyday life. Mood swings, or episodes, of mania and depression can be triggered by outside factors, or they can occur all on their own. There is also more than one kind of Bipolar Disorder; the frequency, severity, and pattern of symptoms determine what type of Bipolar a person has.
One component of Bipolar Disorder is mania. Signs and symptoms of mania can include:
- Elevated or euphoric mood
- Increased energy and/or intense restlessness
- Decreased need for sleep or inability to sleep
- Rapid, pressured speech
- Racing thoughts
- Difficulty concentrating
- Inflated sense of confidence
- Aggressive behavior or irritability
- Risky behaviors such as reckless driving or spending large amounts of money
- Increased sexual behavior
- Impulsive drug use
- Other impulsive or dangerous behavior
- Inability to judge behavior as unusual or problem-causing
- Difficulty telling what is real
Another component of Bipolar Disorder is depressive episodes. Signs and symptoms can include:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
- No longer taking pleasure in activities that were once enjoyable
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- An increase or decrease in appetite
- Sleeping too much or having trouble sleeping
- A loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Acts of self-care, such as showering, brushing one's teeth, or doing laundry, may feel difficult or insurmountable
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Having difficulty thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and/or remembering things
- Having thoughts of self-harm, death, or suicide
Episodes of mania, depression, a mixture of the two, or a normal baseline mood can last for months, days, or in rarer cases, hours.
Bipolar II Disorder
People with Type II Bipolar experience major depressive episodes, just like Bipolar I, but instead of mania they experience hypomania. Hypomania is a milder form of mania, presenting with many of the same signs and symptoms but to a lesser degree. A hypomanic episode will typically have less effect on a person’s ability to function in daily life and will not cause difficulty in distinguishing what is real.
Bipolar Disorder is a serious but manageable condition, and ACP is here to help. Treatment typically involves therapy and medication to help manage symptoms. If you have or think you might have a form of Bipolar Disorder, call 612-925-6033 to schedule an evaluation, or fill out our online form to have one of our schedulers contact you. If you’re feeling unsure, check out our free, confidential mental health screening tool. We offer individual therapy as well as psychiatric services for those who might benefit from medication.