Bipolar Disorder Signs, Symptoms, & Treatment

Bipolar Disorder: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment

Table of Contents

Bipolar disorder is a complex mental health condition characterized by significant mood swings, including emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). At Dr. Messina & Associates in Southlake, we are dedicated to providing comprehensive care for individuals experiencing bipolar disorder, helping them manage their symptoms effectively and lead fulfilling lives.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive illness, is a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). These mood swings can affect sleep, energy levels, behavior, judgment, and the ability to think clearly. Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year, and while most individuals will experience some emotional symptoms between episodes, some may not experience any.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is divided into several subtypes, each defined by the nature of the mood episodes experienced:

  1. Bipolar I Disorder: This type is characterized primarily by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or by manic symptoms that are so severe immediate hospital care is needed. Usually, depressive episodes occur as well, typically lasting at least 2 weeks.
  2. Bipolar II Disorder: Defined by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes, but not the full-blown manic episodes that are typical of Bipolar I Disorder.
  3. Cyclothymic Disorder (Cyclothymia): Periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents); however, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.

Signs and Symptoms

Manic Phase Symptoms:

  • Increased energy, activity, and restlessness
  • Excessively high, euphoric mood
  • Extreme irritability and distractibility
  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Unusually talkative, speaking rapidly
  • Racing thoughts, jumping quickly from one idea to the next
  • Impaired judgment, impulsivity
  • Delusions or a break from reality (severe cases)

Depressive Phase Symptoms:

  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells
  • Significant changes in appetite and sleep patterns
  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety
  • Pessimism, indifference
  • Loss of energy, persistent lethargy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness
  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness
  • Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing bipolar disorder involves careful observation of the symptoms, including their severity, length, and impact on the individual’s life. At Dr. Messina & Associates, our approach begins with a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, which may include medical examinations to rule out other causes and detailed discussions about personal and family medical history.

Treatment Options at Dr. Messina & Associates:

1. Medication Management: Effective management often requires medications such as mood stabilizers, antipsychotic medications, and occasionally antidepressants. Our psychiatrists work closely with patients to find the right medication regimen while minimizing side effects.

2. Psychotherapy: Various therapy approaches, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal and Social Rhythm Therapy (IPSRT), are effective for managing bipolar disorder. Therapy can help individuals understand their condition, learn coping strategies, manage their symptoms, and work through the triggers that may provoke mood episodes.

3. Lifestyle Counseling: We assist patients in developing healthy lifestyle habits that support their treatment. This includes establishing a regular sleep schedule, eating a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and avoiding substances like alcohol and caffeine that can exacerbate symptoms.

4. Education and Support: Understanding bipolar disorder is crucial for patients and their families. We provide education about the nature of the disorder, treatment options, and effective strategies for managing it. Additionally, we may recommend support groups as a way to connect with others facing similar challenges.

5. Long-Term Monitoring: Bipolar disorder requires careful, long-term management. Our team is committed to providing ongoing support, monitoring treatment effectiveness, and making necessary adjustments to ensure that our patients achieve the best possible outcomes.

Importance of Diagnosis and Treatment

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition that can be managed with the right treatment. Treatment usually includes a combination of medications and psychotherapy. Because bipolar disorder is a recurrent illness, long-term preventive treatment is strongly recommended and almost always indicated.

Managing bipolar disorder is complex and challenging, so getting the proper diagnosis and treatment plan is crucial. Treatment can help those with the disorder lead healthy and productive lives. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have bipolar disorder, it’s important to seek professional help. Early intervention can help control symptoms and improve the quality of life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of bipolar disorder, Dr. Messina & Associates in Southlake is here to help. Our expert team is equipped with the knowledge, experience, and compassion needed to support patients through diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Contact us today to start on the path to better mental health and well-being.


Picture of Dr. Michael Messina

Dr. Michael Messina

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