ipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depression, affects an estimated 2.8% of adults in the United States—with both men and women having similar rates of occurrence. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder has the highest rate of serious impairment for mood disorders with an estimated 82.9% of people classified as having serious impairment and 17.1% having moderate levels of impairment.
These statistics may seem frightening, but our understanding of how to treat bipolar disorder continues to evolve. In Garner, North Carolina, the team at Raleigh Oaks Behavioral Health provides comprehensive evidence-based care to help men and women with bipolar disorder learn to manage their condition effectively so they can make the most of each day.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
People with bipolar disorder experience periods of intense energy, elevated mood, and impulsive behavior (mania or hypomania) followed by periods of deep sadness, hopelessness, and low energy (depression).
There are several types of bipolar disorder, each with its own specific features.
- Bipolar I disorder. This involves manic episodes that last at least seven days or are severe enough to require immediate hospitalization. Depressive episodes may also occur.
- Bipolar II disorder. This includes a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, which are less severe than full-blown manic episodes.
- Cyclothymic disorder. This is a milder form of bipolar disorder characterized by numerous periods of hypomanic symptoms and depressive symptoms lasting for at least two years or one year in children and adolescents.
- Other specified and unspecified bipolar and related disorders. This category includes disorders with bipolar features that don’t fit into the specific criteria of the previously mentioned types.
The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not fully understood, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic, biological, and environmental factors.
How Untreated Bipolar Disorder Can Negatively Affect Relationships
Untreated bipolar disorder can have a significant impact on a person’s relationships with family and friends.
- Poor communication. The shifts in mood and energy levels associated with bipolar disorder can make communication difficult. During depressive episodes, individuals may withdraw and struggle to articulate their thoughts. During manic episodes, their speech may be rapid and difficult to follow.
- Impulsivity. During manic episodes, people with bipolar disorder may engage in impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending or physically risky activities. This impulsivity can create stress and strain in relationships.
- Instability. Loved ones may not know how to predict episodes of depression or mania, and this uncertainty can cause them to withdraw.
- Substance abuse. Substance abuse is a common way for people with bipolar disorder to cope with their symptoms. This can create additional problems that strain relationships.
- Problems with sexual intimacy. During depressive episodes, individuals may experience a lack of interest in sex. During manic episodes, increased impulsivity can lead to infidelity or other forms of inappropriate behavior.
How Treatment Helps Bipolar Disorder
With effective treatment and support, people with bipolar disorder are able to:
- Maintain stable relationships with friends, family, and romantic partners
- Raise a family
- Pursue higher education
- Achieve career goals
- Engage in social activities
- Pursue hobbies and interests
- Lead a healthy lifestyle
Bipolar disorder is typically treated through a combination of medications, psychotherapy, and lifestyle management. Treatment plans are personalized to fit individual needs based on symptoms, the type of bipolar disorder, the presence of co-occurring illnesses, and other factors.
Mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants are the three most common types of medication used to treat bipolar disorder.
- Mood stabilizers. Medications like lithium, valproic acid, and lamotrigine help stabilize mood and prevent episodes of mania and depression.
- Antipsychotics. Some types of antipsychotic medications, such as olanzapine, quetiapine, and risperidone, can be used to manage symptoms during manic or mixed episodes.
- Antidepressants. In certain cases, antidepressants may be prescribed during depressive episodes. They are most often used in combination with mood stabilizers to reduce the risk of triggering manic episodes.
Psychotherapy helps people with bipolar disorder better understand their condition and develop more effective coping mechanisms.
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors.
- Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT). IPSRT focuses on stabilizing daily routines and improving interpersonal relationships to help regulate mood.
Lifestyle management is often an overlooked part of treating bipolar disorder, but promoting healthy habits can play a significant role in stabilizing mood.
- Sleep hygiene. Maintaining a regular sleep schedule is crucial for individuals with bipolar disorder since disruptions in sleep patterns can trigger mood episodes.
- Regular exercise. Physical activity has been shown to have positive effects on mood regulation.
- Stress reduction. Managing stress through techniques such as mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises can help prevent mood episodes.
Schedule an Assessment
If you’d like to learn more about how our services can help you or your loved one, contact us for information on scheduling an assessment. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist with questions and the assessment is completely confidential.