Formerly known as manic depressive disorder, bipolar disorder is a debilitating illness that can impact every aspect of a person’s life. There is a very strong correlation between bipolar and substance use disorders, which can make effective treatment of either disorder that much more challenging.
Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder
When a person is in the manic phase of bipolar disorder, symptoms might include:
- Increased energy and decreased need for sleep
- Excessive talkativeness, talking very fast and jumping from one subject to another
- Overly restless and easily distracted
- Unrealistic confidence in one’s own abilities
- Impulsive decision making and subsequent actions
Delusions and hallucinations can also occur during the manic phase, but typically only in the most severe forms of the condition.
During the depressed phase of bipolar disorder, the following symptoms might occur:
- Feeling sad, hopeless or empty for an extended period of time
- Reduced interest in work or activities
- Significant changes to appetite or weight
- Severe fatigue and loss of energy
- Impaired mental function or memory loss
- Suicidal thoughts and ideations
In some cases, a person can experience a mixed episode with both manic and depressive symptoms at the same time. These mixed episodes can be particularly dangerous, with a higher rate of suicide than episodes of mania or depression individually.
Treatment for Bipolar Disorder
There is no cure for bipolar disorder, but proper treatment can help to manage symptoms and provide a higher quality of life overall. Some of the common treatment options used for bipolar disorder include:
The most common medications used for bipolar disorder include antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. In some cases, different medications or combinations of medications will need to be tried to determine which ones offer the best relief from symptoms.
There are also a number of therapy techniques that might prove helpful for people with bipolar disorder, such as cognitive behavior therapy, psychoeducation and interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.
Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
This treatment, which involves administration of electrical impulses to the brain, may be recommended if medication and psychotherapy alone prove ineffective. The procedure has improved significantly in recent years and provides a viable option for those that cannot find relief from symptoms any other way.