Bipolar Disorders: Types, Symptoms, Effects, & Treatments

Bipolar Treatment in Florida

Updated Last June 1, 2024
Published By: Facility Staff

If you are one of the 2 to 3% of American adults living with bipolar disorder, you already know how painful it can be for both you and your loved ones. 

Bipolar disorders, sometimes referred to as manic depression, are classified as both mood disorders and depressive disorders. Despite being fairly common, these disorders can be quite damaging and debilitating to those who have them. 

Fortunately, Mark Behavioral Health treats bipolar disorder and other types of mental illness in the South Florida area, through compassionate, effective, evidence-based treatments.

Quick Facts on Bipolar Disorders

  • Prevalence of bipolar disorders: Around 2% of the population
  • Types of bipolar disorders: Bipolar I disorder, bipolar II disorder, cyclothymic disorder, specified bipolar disorder, unspecified bipolar disorder
  • Types of bipolar episodes: Mania, hypomania, and depressive episodes
  • Signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder: Extreme mood swings, melancholy and sadness, suicidal thoughts or attempts, psychosis or psychotic episodes, racing thoughts, agitation and restlessness, feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, high energy, fatigue
  • Mental disorders that commonly co-occur/related disorders: Depression, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), seasonal affective disorder, eating disorders
  • Long-term side effects of bipolar disorder: Strained relationships, poor performance in work or school, physical health problems, development of new mental disorders, increased risk for suicide
  • Treatment options for bipolar disorder: Psychotherapy, medications, residential treatment, outpatient treatment

Types of Bipolar Disorders

There are five mental illnesses which are considered to be bipolar disorder, all of which experience three distinct periods that are called mood episodes. 

The three types of mood episodes are manic, hypomanic, and depressive. 

What type of bipolar disorder a person has generally depends on the type of mood episodes that they experience and the level of their severity and frequency. 

Bipolar I Disorder

Someone with bipolar I disorder experiences depressive episodes along with episodes of mania, sometimes so severe that hospitalization or crisis stabilization is required. 

These mood changes typically last for several days or weeks in someone with bipolar disorder, whereas someone without this disorder might instead experience mood changes that last only hours. 

Note that someone can be diagnosed with bipolar I disorder without the presence of depressive episodes. However, at least one severe manic episode is required for this diagnosis. 

Bipolar II Disorder

Someone with bipolar II disorder experiences depressive episodes along with hypomanic episodes, which are manic episodes that are considered to be less severe. 

Experiencing a full-blown manic episode or psychosis at any point automatically disqualifies someone from a bipolar II diagnosis. Although, it is not necessarily correct to call this a less severe form of bipolar disorder. 

Someone with this type of bipolar disorder may instead experience episodes of depression that are longer and more severe in nature, even though their manic periods are more mild. 

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, may be considered a less severe form of bipolar disorder. Someone with this disorder still experiences mood swings but they are much less extreme on either end. 

It is still important to seek treatment for cyclothymic disorder, as symptoms can worsen and even turn into bipolar I or II disorder over time. 

In order to be diagnosed with cyclothymic disorder, a person must exhibit signs of fluctuating mild hypomanic and depressive mood swings for a period of at least two years. 

Specified or Unspecified Bipolar Disorder 

Specified bipolar disorder occurs when a person has symptoms of multiple types of bipolar disorder at the same time, or symptoms which fluctuate too often to fit into a single diagnosis. 

Unspecified bipolar disorder, on the other hand, occurs when a mental health professional or other health care provider does not have enough information to give a specific bipolar diagnosis. 

There are also instances of unspecified bipolar disorders when a medical professional chooses not to specify the disorder because time is too limited, such as in an emergency room situation. 

This type of bipolar disorder is often referred to as bipolar disorder NOS (not otherwise specified), and can be an ambiguous and confusing diagnosis for the individual. 

What Causes Bipolar Disorders?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is not known, but it is believed to be mostly caused by genetic factors as well as factors within an individual’s brain

There are instances of bipolar disorder being triggered by a traumatic event, illness, or a deep loss, particularly during childhood. 

Risk Factors for Bipolar Disorders

While bipolar disorders are fairly rare, there are certain factors that will put a person at an increased risk. 

Risk factors for bipolar disorders include:

  • A family history of bipolar disorder
  • High levels of stress
  • Abnormal brain structure
  • Substance abuse
  • Traumatic event, especially in childhood 
  • Medical condition such as a stroke or traumatic brain injury

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorders

The symptoms for most bipolar disorders generally fall into two categories: those experienced during a manic episode and those experienced during a depressive episode. 

People can also experience hypomanic episodes, which are a more mild form of the symptoms listed below for manic episodes. 

You may find difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder in yourself, which is why friends and family members should always be aware of the warning signs of an oncoming manic or depressive episode. 

Manic symptoms of bipolar disorders include:

  • Extreme levels of happiness, excitement, positivity
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • High energy and decreased need for sleep
  • Paranoia
  • High sex drive
  • Impaired concentration and judgment
  • Sudden shifts from extreme happiness to extreme anger
  • Psychotic symptoms 

Depressive symptoms of bipolar disorders include: 

  • Feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness
  • Crying a lot
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and loss of energy
  • Irritability
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Having thoughts of suicide

Effects of Untreated Bipolar Disorders

If bipolar disorder remains undiagnosed or untreated, it can really wreak havoc on your life and relationships. 

Even during periods when you feel that your bipolar disorder is managed and under control, you should still maintain regular therapy and care. This helps you avoid relapse or rapid cycling, which is experiencing four or more manic or depressive episodes within a year.

Effects of untreated bipolar disorders include:

  • Worsening of the condition
  • Development of new mental health conditions 
  • Damaged or poor-quality relationships
  • Problems in work or at school
  • Problems with substance abuse
  • Physical health problems or illness
  • Increased risk of suicide

Treatment for Bipolar Disorder at Mark Behavioral Health

People with bipolar disorder have access to the following mental health treatments at Mark Behavioral Health. 

Residential Treatment Programs

Mark Behavioral Health is primarily a provider of inpatient mental health treatment, and people with bipolar disorder are often perfect candidates for our residential programs. 

These programs allow patients to receive 24/7 supervision and care, which can be especially beneficial to those who may be suicidal or have made previous suicide attempts. 

Crisis Stabilization Services

Crisis stabilization can be an important component of treatment for bipolar disorder, especially if someone is having a severe manic episode but is hoping to avoid a hospitalization. 

The crisis stabilization services that we offer at Mark Behavioral Health are comfortable and safe and typically involve family members and loved ones. 

Psychotherapy

People with bipolar disorder may want to try different types of therapy while in treatment, however, traditional psychotherapy, sometimes referred to as talk therapy, is most effective with this disorder. 

Other types of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), are more goal-oriented but can still be effective when treating bipolar depression. 

All psychotherapy at Mark Behavioral Health is performed by licensed psychotherapists and is done with a trauma-informed approach. 

Trauma-Informed Therapies

Many people who are living with bipolar disorder have experienced a serious trauma in their lives, and it is important that their treatment providers understand this issue. 

The trauma-informed therapies at Mark Behavioral Health provide care that is compassionate and understanding. This form of therapy takes into account your unique and individual trauma and how you have been shaped by them. 

Bereavement Therapy

Bipolar disorder can also be triggered in some cases by grief or experiencing a sudden or deep loss of any kind, which is where Mark Behavioral Health’s grief and loss therapy can help. 

By addressing any issues with grief that are triggering bipolar episodes, you can begin to heal from both the grief you are experiencing and your symptoms of bipolar disorder. 

Wellness Services

We also offer wellness services as a way for you to balance out your care and address all areas of your personal wellbeing and mental health. 

These services are optional but are highly recommended as a means of addressing your mental health through holistic or alternative methods. 

Top Resources for People Facing Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder, as well as your loved ones, have several resources available to educate them on this disorder and direct them toward local treatment. 

Top resources for people facing bipolar disorder include:

Get Specialized Treatment for Bipolar Disorders in Florida

A bipolar disorder diagnosis can be difficult to manage for your and your loved ones, but we are dedicated to helping South Florida residents stay on top of their mental health

Connect with Mark Behavioral Health if you would like to address your bipolar disorder in a safe and welcoming environment free from judgment and stigma. 

You can be happy and live a better life, free from the everyday challenges of bipolar disorder — call us today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most common type of bipolar disorder?

It is not clear which type of bipolar disorder is most common, but it is important to note that bipolar disorder in itself is somewhat common. 

In fact, it is estimated that about 2% of people worldwide have bipolar disorder, so it is one of the more common mental health disorders people can have after depression and anxiety.

Is bipolar disorder genetic?

Bipolar disorder can be hereditary. People are more likely to develop this disorder if they have a close relative who has also been diagnosed, including a parent or sibling. 

This is not to say that having a close relative with bipolar disorder disorder is a guarantee of developing it, and people can develop it without having any genetic link.

What are the best treatments for bipolar disorders?

An effective treatment plan for bipolar disorder usually involves a combination of psychotherapy and medications, including mood stabilizers like lithium, antipsychotics, and antidepressants. 

Some cases of bipolar disorder are also best addressed within an inpatient environment, where patients can receive 24/7 care and support.

How do people manage life with bipolar disorder?

In addition to seeking regular mental health care and therapy, even during periods when feeling good, it is also important for people with bipolar disorder to practice good self-care. 

This can mean different things to different people, but can include practices like making sure to get enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and participating in hobbies and activities that make you feel good.

Can you cure bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is generally understood to be a lifelong diagnosis, and there is not currently a cure for it. 

With regular and quality treatment, however, people can manage their symptoms and live fulfilling lives with deep connections.

Further Reading

  1. Mental Health Disorders
  2. Anxiety Disorders
  3. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  4. Depressive Disorders
  5. Panic Disorders
  6. Schizoaffective Disorder
  7. Schizophrenia

Sources

American Psychiatric Association. “What Are Bipolar Disorders?” Retrieved from:
https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/bipolar-disorders/what-are-bipolar-disorders
Mayo Clinic. “Bipolar disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955
Mental Health America. “What causes bipolar disorder?” Retrieved from:
https://screening.mhanational.org/content/what-causes-bipolar-disorder/
National Institute of Mental Health. “Bipolar Disorder.” Retrieved from:
https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder
TheBMJ. “Diagnosis and management of bipolar disorders.” Retrieved from:
https://www.bmj.com/content/381/bmj-2022-073591