What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a brain malfunction that affects your mood, energy levels, and ability to function. There are three categories of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder.

Bipolar I causes extreme swings between depressive and manic episodes. You may experience periods of normal moods between the extremes. Bipolar II also causes mood swings. However, if you have Bipolar II, your high periods are hypomanic, which aren’t quite as severe as those experienced with Bipolar I.

Cyclothymic disorder is the mildest type of bipolar disorder. You still live with disruptive mood swings, but your symptoms don’t meet the diagnostic criteria for depressive, manic, or hypomanic episodes.

What are the symptoms of different bipolar moods?

Each bipolar episode type is identified by specific symptoms.

Depressive episodes usually last for two weeks or longer and cause:

  • Intense feelings of sadness, guilt, and hopelessness
  • Low energy levels and fatigue
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lost interest in hobbies
  • Poor concentration

Manic episodes can last for a week or more and typically include acute symptoms such as:

  • Reduced need for sleep
  • More talkative than usual
  • Irritability
  • Exaggerated confidence
  • Taking on too many activities
  • Racing thoughts and distractibility
  • Risky or self-destructive behaviors

Hypomanic episodes cause symptoms similar to a manic episode, but they’re not as severe. Hypomanic episodes only last for a few days and aren’t as disruptive to your ability to function.

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

The team at LifeStance Health diagnoses bipolar disorder after a thorough assessment. Your assessment is longer than a regular appointment, and you will talk to your provider in detail about your symptoms, your overall health, and your life. Your provider asks many questions to develop a thorough understanding of your condition and needs. Your psychiatrist may order additional testing to check for signs of other conditions or illnesses that could affect your mood and behavior.

How is bipolar disorder treated?

Your provider creates a customized treatment program to address your specific needs and symptoms. For example, they may prescribe a mood stabilizing medication and therapy to help you explore and resolve any underlying issues that contribute to your condition. Your provider may also recommend some adjustments to your diet, exercise, and relaxation habits to improve your overall health and support your recovery.

If you’re concerned about your mood swings or bipolar disorder, call LifeStance Health or make an appointment online today.