There are a variety of factors that may appear to contribute to the presence and severity of symptoms of bipolar disorder such as genetic predisposition, traumatic events, and environment. Furthermore, there is a strong correlation between bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol abuse, perhaps as a result of efforts to self-medicate the unwanted symptoms of the disorder.
There are a variety of commonly recognized signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder including a period of emotional distress with depression and an overly joyful episode of mania. During an episode of depression the person with bipolar disorder may experience the following symptoms:
- • Feel sad and depressed
- • Restlessness
- • Irritability
- • Poor concentration and memory
- • Lack of interest in daily activities
- • Fatigue
During an episode of mania or manic episode, the person with bipolar disorder may appear to be overly happy, outgoing, and sometimes irritable. The most commonly reported symptoms of bipolar disorder mania are:
- • Hyper-verbal
- • Racing thoughts
- • Extreme irritability
- • Easily distracted
- • Engaging in high risk behaviors
There are four basic types of bipolar disorder according to diagnostic guidelines set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM)
- 1. Bipolar 1 Disorder is diagnosed when there is a pattern of manic or mixed episodes which may include depression that last for at least seven days, or with manic symptoms so severe requiring immediate hospitalization.
- 2. Bipolar 11 Disorder is diagnosed when there is a pattern of both depressive and hypomanic episodes without full-blown manic or mixed episodes.
- 3. Bipolar Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is diagnosed when symptoms of bipolar disorder exist, however, diagnostic criteria for Bipolar I and Bipolar II is not met provided the symptoms are clearly out of a person’s normal range of behaviors.
- 4. Cyclothymic Disorder is recognized as a mild form of bipolar disorder and is diagnosed when a person presents with episodes of hypomania in addition to mild depression for at least two years.
Treatment for bipolar disorder can be very effective providing a person diagnosed with the disorder the opportunity to live a fully functioning and productive life. Psychotherapy, when conducted in conjunction with medication management can be a highly effective treatment for bipolar disorder. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one of the most effective forms of psychotherapy for treating bipolar disorder in which patients learn to change self-destructive and negative patterns of thoughts into more positive and constructive ones.
Medication management for bipolar disorder has been shown to be highly effective, while at the same time, complicated by the fact that not all patients respond to medications in the same way. Mood stabilizers are the most commonly prescribed medication to treat bipolar disorder:
- • Lithium (Lithobid)
Anticonvulsant medications prescribed to treat bipolar disorder include:
- • Valproic Acid (Depakote)
- • Lamotrigine (Lamictal)
- • Topiramate (Topomax)
- • Oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
- • Neurontin
- • Gabapentin
Atypical Antipsychotic medications prescribed to treat bipolar disorder include:
- • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
- • Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- • Risperidone (Risperdal)
- • Ziprasidone (Geodon)
Antidepressant medications prescribed to treat bipolar disorder include:
- • Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- • Paroxetine (Paxil)
- • Sertraline (Zoloft)
- • Bupropion (Wellbutrin)