Bipolar Disorder

While only a qualified mental health professional can actually diagnose a mental health problem, the following information can be used to help assess in identifying Bipolar Disorder. Please note that this is not a comprehensive listing of all psychiatric disorders, and does not substitute for an evaluation by a mental health professional.

​Bipolar Disorders, Type One (I) and Type Two (II)

The basic pattern for Bipolar Disorders is the idea that there is a cycling to the moods. One end of the cycle involves depressed moods (see the section on Identifying Depression). The other end of the cycle involves something called “Mania”. This is an expansive, energized mood that can manifest in a number of different ways (see below).

Characterization of Bipolar I Disorder

  • Significant changes in mood, sometimes rapid, from expansive, grandiose, talkative, not needing sleep, engaging in risky behaviors (stealing, promiscuity, excessive spending, etc). alternating with periods of depressive symptoms. Not caused by drug usage.
  • Tends to be, if not treated, very debilitating and interferes very significantly with normal functioning. For example, most people with Bipolar I Disorder who have not yet been successfully diagnosed and treated will have been admitted to an inpatient psychiatric facility at some time.

Characterization of Bipolar II Disorder

  • More moderate changes in mood, sometimes rapid, from intense, energized, talkative, reduced need for sleep, engaging in moderately risky behaviors, alternating with periods of depressive symptoms . The depressions do not need to be severe, they may be more moderate. The changes in mood are not caused by drug usage.
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  • Bipolar II Disorder can often go undiagnosed/untreated as it is more within the range of normal personality. These people can sometimes be thought of as “intense,” “moody” or “driven.” They can often achieve a great deal due to hypomania (intense energy state) but can be draining to be around for others.

Benefits Of Therapy​​

  • Psychotherapy has been shown to change levels of serotonin, the brain chemical involved in depression. This is the same mechanism that drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor and other SSRI’s work by.
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  • Studies show that antidepressant medications and psychotherapy both work equally well for psychological problems (this may not apply to some diagnoses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder which have a stronger genetic component).
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  • Brain scans have shown that psychotherapy increases the thickness of fibers that connect the frontal lobe to the limbic system. This allows us to better control our emotions and remain calm and not react even when we feel provoked.

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