Bipolar disorder, previously 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. More specifically, bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that is characterized by noticeable, unprovoked, sometimes extreme, changes in mood and behavior, that typically present as severe episodic mood swings, shifting between emotional highs (manias) to emotional lows (depressions) with intervals of stable moods. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 2.9% of adolescents ages 13 to 18 years old will be diagnosed with bipolar disorder in their lifetime. Bipolar disorder severely affects normal development and psychosocial functioning and increases the risk for behavioral, academic, social, and legal problems, as well as psychosis, substance abuse, and suicide. Research suggests that bipolar disorder can have a significant impact on social relationships, especially during the teenage years when social interactions and peer relationships are crucial for emotional development.
Bipolar disorder can hinder an adolescent’s ability to concentrate and focus which can adversely affect his or her academic performance. Academic struggles can lead to social isolation as teens may feel disconnected from peers who excel academically. Stigma surrounding mental health conditions like bipolar disorder can lead to social exclusion and bullying. Further, teens with bipolar disorder often feel misunderstood and/ or judged, leading to feelings of isolation, and making it difficult to form genuine connections with others. During depressive episodes, teens may withdraw from social interactions and isolate themselves from friends. The overwhelming sadness and lack of interest can make it difficult to engage in social activities, which can lead to a restricted lifestyle and impede social and emotional development. Bipolar disorder can cause instability in relationships, as the erratic nature of mood swings often strains friendships. Friends may find it difficult to understand and adapt to the constantly changing emotional states of their peer with bipolar disorder. Additionally, irritability during manic episodes or withdrawal during depressive episodes can lead to conflicts within friendships, making it challenging to sustain healthy relationships. Although bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition, there are effective treatment options available. 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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