Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that causes dramatic shifts in one’s mood, energy, and ability to think. Those with bipolar disorder experience high and low moods, which are referred to as episodes of mania and depression. The disorder’s symptoms can negatively impact many aspects of one’s life. Luckily, treatment for bipolar disorder is available and has been proven beneficial to many.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are three types of bipolar disorder, each with their own defining characteristics. 

  • Bipolar I Disorder: defined by severe manic episodes lasting at least seven days, as well as depressive episodes lasting at least two weeks
  • Bipolar II Disorder: defined by pattern of depressive and hypomanic episodes, but not manic episodes as severe as with Bipolar I
  • Cyclothymic Disorder: defined by periods of depressive and hypomanic symptoms lasting for at least two years, however, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode


People having a manic episode may:

  • Feel “up” or “high”
  • Feel jumpy or wired
  • Have decreased need for sleep
  • Talk very fast
  • Be distractible
  • Feel as though their thoughts are racing
  • Have heightened self-confidence and feel more powerful, important, or talented
  • Think they can do many things at once
  • Engage in risky activities
  • Feel irritable
  • Experience a loss of appetite

People having a depressive episode may:

  • Feel “down” or “empty”
  • Feel slowed down
  • Feel sad or hopeless
  • Increased appetite, leading to possible weight gain
  • Have trouble sleeping or be sleeping too much
  • Decreased ability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Feel unable to do everyday tasks
  • Be forgetful
  • Talk very slowly
  • Have little or no interest in activities that are normally enjoyable


Treatment can often provide individuals relief from symptoms. Plans may vary but commonly include a combination of:

  • Psychotherapy
    • Psychotherapy (talk therapy) helps reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder for many. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to treat bipolar disorder. CBT teaches individuals to identity and work towards changing negative emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
  • Medication
    • Medications are often used to help decrease the symptoms of bipolar disorder. 
    • Bipolar disorder can be treated with various medications including mood stabilizers, second-generation antipsychotics, and antidepressants. In addition, medications used for sleep or to decrease anxiety may be prescribed.
    • Many people work with their health care provider to try a few medications before deciding which is best for them in the long-term.