Therapy for Bipolar Disorder
Bi-Polar disorder (BPD), referred to in the past as manic-depressive disorder, affects 2.6 % or 5.7 million adults, 18 years and older in the United States. The diagnosis seems almost evenly split between males and females. Estimates show that approximately 4.4% of adults in the US will experience BPD in their lives. This disorder can range from mild to moderate to severe and is categorized as BPDI and BPDII.
Many people live their lives with BPD without ever being diagnosed. This may be a result of culture, lack of information, resources or other factors that create barriers to diagnosis. It’s not unusual for BPD to be seen as a part of the person’s personality. This means, unfortunately this many go undiagnosed and untreated until something terrible happens. Individuals with BPDI experience both manic and also have depressive episodes. Manic episodes can be severe , sometimes resulting in law enforcement involvement and legal problems. Symptoms such as aggression or other behaviors place the individual or persons around them in danger.
Features of manic episodes include decreased need for sleep, inflated self -esteem, increased talking or a high degree of socializing and sexual activity. High alcohol or drug use is not uncommon. Many individuals experience a flight of ideas and concentration becomes very difficult. Out of control spending can lead to severe indebtedness. There can be increased activity and distractibility. It’s not unusual for people to engage in impulsive behaviors, that can lead to poor business decisions. During manic episodes suicide can occur.
Depressive episodes may result in an inability to get out of bed or engage in activities of daily living, such as going to work or caring for family. Insomnia or hyper-somnia are often present. It’s not unusual to have extreme fatigue, diminished ability to concentrate, feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thinking or attempt.
Hypomania is a feature of BPDII. This is very similar to mania found in BPDI, however with a shorter duration and less severe. Individuals with BPDII will experience more depression than mania. The depressive symptoms also resemble those of BPDI. It is necessary to see a psychiatrist or other mental health professional in order to be accurately diagnosed with BPD.
Medical treatment is most often provided by psychiatrists or nurse practitioners and involves medications that relieve depression and stabilize the mood. Treatment can be successful if the individual engages in therapy and is compliant with medication. Unfortunately many sufferers of BPD discontinue medications when they begin to feel better or experience the distressing side effects of these drugs.
It is important to stay on medication when symptoms abate or when side effects emerge and see your treatment professional for further evaluation. In addition to medication, it is very important for the person with BPD to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This should include regular mild to moderate exercise, meditation, healthy food, adequate rest/ sleep and reduced stress. Foods with high amounts of additives, chemicals, food coloring, sugar and trans fats can exacerbate symptoms and reduce the benefits of medication and therapy.