Bipolar Disorder

Overview of Condition

Formerly referred to as manic depression, bipolar disorder is when an individual experiences a wide range of moods from depression to elation (mania) in episodes or cycles. Some people who experience bipolar disorder may also show extreme changes in their mood.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a condition where a person experiences mood swings that range from extreme happiness or elation to severe depression.

Signs/Symptoms

Manic episodes can feature contradictory emotions in which a person can rapidly experience an array of feelings such as extreme happiness, sadness, guilt, grandiosity, fatigue or irritability. Some episodes can include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, racing or suicidal thoughts and delusional ideas.

Symptoms, severity and recurrence vary from person to person. Some people will suffer from extreme manic or psychotic symptoms, mild symptoms between episodes, or ongoing mild depression.

Treatment Options

A trained psychiatrist who has experience prescribing medication for bipolar disorder should guide treatment options.  Treatment begins with the initial treatment of taking medications to alleviate the symptoms and then a continued treatment plan to ameliorate the lifelong symptoms of this disorder, as people who skip or stop their treatment are at a higher risk of a relapse of symptoms.  Some common medications that can be prescribed are mood stabilizers, antipsychotics, and antidepressants.  The dose and frequency depend on the individual's specific symptoms.  

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, is a talking therapy that can help patients manage their illness problems by changing the way they think and behave. It is most commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but has also shown efficacy in treating bipolar disorder.

Bipolar Disorder Caregiver: Caring for someone with Bipolar Disorder

It is often the parents and step-parents who are the primary caregivers, and they spend most of their time tending to the medical needs of their loved one.

But being a caregiver can be very stressful and burdensome. It often leaves the caregiver with little or no time to tend to his/her own needs.  Approximately 63% of caregivers admit not having enough time for themselves, and 55% admit that they don't have time to manage their own health. Routine visits to the doctor are essential to ask for advice and assistance with caregiving, especially since caregiving is known to have mental health consequences for the caregiver, including the increased likelihood of depression, insomnia, and anxiety. 

Key Facts

  • Bipolar disorder is a disorder where the individual experiences manic highs and depression mood swings.
  • Treatment options are available with a combination of medications to help balance the manic and depressive states.


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"Engaging Family Caregivers in Team-Based Care"