Bipolar Disorder

Treatment for bipolar disorder usually involves medication, however treatment best-practice involves both medication and psychological support. The Psychologists at Foundation Psychology assist individuals with bipolar disorder in various ways including:

  • providing clarity around the diagnosis and treatment options for those with symptoms which may indicate bipolar disorder
  • improving self care and increasing self-awareness
  • positive psychology principles; developing resilience, increasing optimism and motivation.
  • goal setting and formulating plans for the client to promote a stable and regular fulfilling routine
  • increasing social support networks

There are two types of bipolar disorder:

  • people with bipolar disorder type I have had at least one manic episode and periods of major depression
  • people with bipolar disorder type II have never had full mania. Instead, they experience periods of high energy levels and impulsiveness that are not as extreme as mania (called hypomania). These periods alternate with episodes of depression.

In most people with bipolar disorder, there is no clear cause for the manic or depressive episodes. The following may trigger a manic episode in people with bipolar disorder:

  • significant life changes or life events
  • medications, such as antidepressants or steroids
  • extended periods of sleeplessness
  • recreational drug use

The manic phase may last from days to months and can include the following symptoms:

  • being easily distracted
  • little need for sleep
  • poor judgment
  • poor temper control
  • reckless behaviour and lack of self control; lack of judgement, binge eating, drug use, promiscuity, spending sprees
  • very elevated mood; excess activity; increased energy, racing thoughts, high self-esteem
  • very involved in activities
  • easily agitated or upset

These symptoms of mania occur with bipolar disorder I. In people with bipolar disorder II, the symptoms of mania are similar but less intense. The depressed phase of both types of bipolar disorder includes the following symptoms:

  • daily low mood or sadness
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • eating problems; loss of appetite or overeating
  • fatigue or lack of energy
  • feeling worthless, hopeless, or guilty
  • loss of pleasure in activities once enjoyed
  • loss of self-esteem
  • thoughts of death and suicide
  • trouble getting to sleep or sleeping too much
  • pulling away from friends or activities that were once enjoyed

There is a high risk of suicide with bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder may abuse alcohol or other substances, which can make the symptoms and suicide risk worse. Sometimes the two phases overlap. Manic and depressive symptoms may occur together or quickly one after the other in what is called a mixed state.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that describes a category of mood disorders. Individuals with bipolar disorder go back and forth between periods of a very good or irritable mood and depression. The “mood swings” between mania and depression can be very quick.

Bipolar disorder affects men and women equally. It usually starts between ages 15 – 25 and whilst the exact cause is unknown, it occurs more often in relatives of people with bipolar disorder.