The symptoms of bipolar disorder are difficult to recognize, both in yourself and your loved ones. You can better recognize and understand these behaviors once you’ve discerned what kind of bipolar disorder is causing them.
But the differences can be subtle, and you need a professional to make a proper diagnosis.
As a board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Ifeanyi Olele of Genesis Psychiatric Solutions identifies and treats a broad range of disorders, including the variations of bipolar disorder.
Symptoms of bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder involves mood cycles that alternate between manic and depressive, hence its former name: manic depression.
During a manic or hypomanic state, you might experience:
- Exaggerated sense of self
- Upbeat, energetic behavior
- Racing thoughts and unusual talkativeness
- Impulsive decisions, including sexual flings and shopping sprees
- Decreased sleep or insomnia
- Irritability and anger
A major depressive episode is more lethargic, with the following symptoms:
- Feeling sad, hopeless, or empty
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Fatigue and slowed behavior
- Lack of enjoyment in activities
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
- Suicidal thoughts or plans to commit suicide
Types of bipolar disorder
Generally, bipolar disorder can be split into three types.
Bipolar I is considered the most severe type of the disorder, with intense episodes of mania and depression that can last for weeks or months.
During a manic episode, you might feel out of control and unable to switch yourself off, leading to poor decision-making and severe strain on your friendships, relationships, and career.
This is followed by a severe depressive state during which you might feel unable to get out of bed or continue living.
Bipolar II and cyclothymic disorder
Bipolar II is a separate diagnosis from bipolar I, despite the similarities. The main difference is that while the manic episodes are milder (hypomanic), the depressive episodes tend to be more severe. You might feel relatively normal between episodes, but your cycle is relatively unpredictable.
Cyclothymic disorder causes milder symptoms, but your cycles are more frequent and regular.
Getting proper diagnosis and treatment
Because bipolar disorder occurs in cycles, tracking those cycles is key to a definitive diagnosis. That’s why you should consult with a psychiatrist and keep track of your mental health. If you let yourself get caught in the mood swings, it can be difficult to reach out for help.
Treatment for bipolar disorder usually involves a bit of trial and error. Everyone responds to drugs differently, but Dr. Olele can help find medications that work for you. This might include one or more of the following:
- Mood stabilizers
- Anti-anxiety medications
But medication shouldn’t be the only thing on your treatment plan. Psychotherapy can help you understand and manage your symptoms, while cognitive behavioral therapy can introduce you to coping methods and strategies that can improve your life and relationships.
Do you want to learn more about bipolar disorder? Schedule a consultation at Genesis Psychiatric Solutions by calling the location closest to you, or request an appointment online. We have offices in Fairfax and Alexandria, Virginia, and Washington, DC.