Bipolar Disorder

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a chronically recurring condition involving moods that swing between the highs of mania and the lows of depression.

How do I know if I have Bipolar Disorder?

The defining feature of bipolar disorder is mania. There is great variability in manic symptoms, but features may include:

  • increased energy, activity, and restlessness
  • euphoric mood and extreme optimism
  • extreme irritability
  • racing thoughts, pressured speech, thoughts that jump from one idea to another
  • distractibility and lack of concentration
  • decreased need for sleep
  • unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers and ideas
  • poor judgment
  • spending sprees
  • increased sexual drive
  • reckless behavior including fast driving
  • provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
  • denial that anything is wrong

While there is great variability in degree and duration of depressive symptoms, features generally include:

  • Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
  • feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
  • decreased energy, feelings of fatigue or of being "slowed down"
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • restlessness or irritability
  • sleeping too much or inability to sleep or stay asleep
  • change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
  • chronic pain or other persistent physical symptoms not accounted for by illness or injury
  • thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

Not infrequently, the symptoms of mania and depression can occur together in "mixed" episodes. Symptoms of a mixed state can include agitation, trouble sleeping, significant change in appetite, psychosis, and suicidal thinking. A person can feel sad in mood yet highly energized.

How Do I Start Treatment?

Meeting with a clinician one-on-one for a first visit is the first step in addressing your symptoms. Based on this assessment, your therapist can help you decide on the best approach to begin to work on your symptoms. Starting treatment is a big step, and we’re here to help. Our clinicians are here to answer any questions you may have, and to help you through the process of getting started. To request information, or to get started with a counselor, fill out our contact us form and we will be in touch.

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