Bipolar disorder, formerly known as manic-depressive disorder or manic depression, is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic mental health illness. Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by sudden and severe episodic mood swings from emotional highs (manias) to emotional lows (depressions) with intervals of stable moods. The cause of bipolar disorder can be attributed to risk factors such as genetics and imbalanced brain chemicals. According to the diagnostic criteria outlined in the DSM-5, bipolar disorder is diagnosed when a person experiences three or more manic symptoms and five or more depressive symptoms. The symptoms and severity of symptoms will vary from person to person and may shift over time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can affect a person’s energy levels, activity, social network, financial situation, sleep, behaviors, judgment, and family life. Still, despite the mood extremes, it is not uncommon for individuals with bipolar disorder to be unaware that they have it. Additionally, individuals with bipolar disorder often do not recognize the severity and pervasive disruption their emotional instability causes in their own lives as well as in the lives of their loved ones. So no, not everyone who has bipolar disorder knows they have it.
Although bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition there are many effective treatment options, both formal and informal, available that can help individuals learn applicable strategies, techniques, and tools to effectively cope with and navigate the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Treatment plans for bipolar disorder provided in a formal treatment setting, for example, often include a combination of psychotherapy and medication, and they are not mutually exclusive. Treatment plans could include one or more psychotherapeutic modality, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), expressive arts therapy, interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), and more. The various types of medications prescribed for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications, and antidepressant-antipsychotic medications. According to the National Advisory Mental Health Council, the treatment success rate for bipolar disorder is nearly eighty percent.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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