Mental Disorders


Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder: Types, Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Bipolar Disorder: Types, Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment

Bipolar disorder causes drastic emotional fluctuations, characterized by “highs” and “lows” that can range from mania to persistent depression. Treatment typically includes a mix of psychotherapy and medication, with treatment centers offering end-to-end support. Learn more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment avenues for bipolar disorder, and contact The Edge Treatment Center for comprehensive care.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is classified as a mood disorder characterized by extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). These mood shifts can be severe and impact a person's ability to function in daily life.

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 2.8% of the U.S. adult population, with symptoms typically appearing in late adolescence or early adulthood. Individuals with bipolar disorder may experience periods of elevated energy, impulsivity, grandiosity, and decreased need for sleep during manic episodes, followed by periods of deep sadness, hopelessness, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities during depressive episodes. BP can vary in severity depending on the type, and typically requires a combination of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes to manage symptoms effectively.

Bipolar Disorder - Girl with Mask on Happy and Sad

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms that are unique to bipolar disorder include mania, hypomania, and persistent depression. Other symptoms may arise in more severe cases, such as hallucinations or coexisting health conditions that exacerbate symptoms. Here’s a deeper overview of bipolar symptoms:


Recognizing manic episodes is critical for ensuring the well-being and safety of individuals with bipolar disorder. Mania can trigger risky behaviors and decisions, potentially leading to severe consequences, including harm or death. Studies indicate that mania is associated with specific changes in the brain, particularly involving genes related to mood regulation. Symptoms during manic episodes may include psychosis, extreme agitation, and a reduced need for sleep.


Understanding the differences between hypomanic and full-blown manic episodes is essential in managing bipolar disorder effectively. Hypomania can cause significant shifts in mood states distinct from depressive episodes, posing risks to individuals' well-being. Identifying subthreshold symptoms of hypomania, even if they do not meet the criteria for a full manic episode, is crucial for early intervention by mental health professionals. Early treatment is vital to prevent the progression of hypomanic symptoms towards psychosis or other severe mental health issues.

Major Depressive Episodes

Recognizing signs of major depressive episodes plays a pivotal role in managing bipolar disorder successfully. These episodes involve persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest in activities. Lasting for weeks or months, major depressive episodes significantly impact daily functioning and quality of life. Seeking professional help is imperative to address major depressive episodes effectively and prevent their escalation into severe mental illnesses.

Other Symptoms

Early identification of sub-threshold symptoms is crucial for prompt diagnosis and treatment planning in bipolar disorder cases. Patients may experience psychotic features like hallucinations that require immediate medical attention due to their distressing nature. The coexistence of bipolar disorder with other health conditions necessitates a comprehensive treatment approach tailored to individual needs. Various evidence-based medications are available to manage the diverse symptoms of bipolar disorder effectively.

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How Is Bipolar Disorder Treated?

Treatment for bipolar disorder primarily includes a joint approach between medications and psychotherapy to ease symptoms, along with support groups and treatment centers that offer comprehensive care. Dive deeper into the treatment avenues for bipolar disorder:


Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, plays a crucial role in treating bipolar disorder. It effectively addresses emotional challenges and enhances communication skills. Behavioral therapy assists individuals in managing symptoms, developing coping strategies, and maintaining stability in daily life. Ongoing treatment with a mental health professional is essential for proper management and preventing relapses. The relationship between bipolar disorder and psychosis involves addressing psychotic symptoms through a comprehensive treatment approach.


Different medications are vital in treating bipolar disorder, including mood stabilizers like valproate and antipsychotic drugs. Proper treatment under the guidance of a healthcare provider is crucial for effective management. Medication may have side effects such as weight gain, drowsiness, and increased anxiety, which should be discussed with a healthcare provider. Talk therapy and behavioral therapy complement medication by providing holistic care for individuals with bipolar disorder.

Treatment Centers

Specialized treatment centers offer proper, end-to-end care for bipolar disorder, with tailored treatment plans that combine medication and behavioral therapy for optimal results. Ongoing treatment supervised by healthcare providers is crucial for managing the condition effectively. It’s also important to note that care providers may prescribe different medications to help control symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Types of Bipolar Disorder

Types of Bipolar Disorder

There are two main types of bipolar disorder — Bipolar I and Bipolar II — along with cyclothymic disorder, a milder form of BP:

Bipolar I

Individuals with Bipolar I experience extreme mood swings, including manic episodes characterized by heightened mood and energy. These episodes often involve risky behaviors and impaired judgment. Depressive episodes in Bipolar I manifest as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and low energy levels. The severity of symptoms distinguishes hypomanic episodes from full-blown manic episodes.

Bipolar II

Bipolar II stands out among other mood disorders on the bipolar spectrum due to the presence of hypomanic episodes. These episodes are less severe than manic episodes but still disrupt daily functioning. Depressive episodes play a significant role in the diagnosis of Bipolar II, leading to feelings of despair and fatigue. Medications like valproate help stabilize mood fluctuations in individuals with Bipolar II.

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder, a milder form of bipolar disorder, involves hypomanic and depressive episodes that do not meet the criteria for full mania or depression. Individuals with this disorder face frequent mood changes impacting their daily lives. Cyclothymic Disorder is a lifelong illness that affects daily functioning. It can also lead to subthreshold symptoms of psychosis and anxiety disorders.

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Diagnosing Bipolar Disorder

Certain diagnostic criteria, along with an initial clinical assessment, is required to accurately diagnose bipolar disorder. Here’s a summary of how BP is diagnosed:

Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder, as outlined in the DSM guidelines, focus on identifying distinct manic and depressive episodes. These episodes must last for specific durations to meet the criteria. Psychotic symptoms play a crucial role in diagnosing bipolar disorders, influencing the classification based on their presence during mood episodes. Considering subthreshold symptoms and psychotic features is vital as they indicate a broader spectrum of bipolar disorders beyond the classic presentations. An evidence-based approach involves careful assessment to differentiate bipolar disorder from conditions like anxiety disorders.

Clinical Assessment

In diagnosing bipolar disorder according to the DSM-5, a thorough clinical assessment is essential. This assessment considers the individual's history of manic and depressive episodes, along with any comorbid mental health conditions. Behavioral therapy plays a significant role in managing bipolar disorder by addressing maladaptive patterns and enhancing coping strategies. Understanding the course of bipolar disorder, characterized by mood swings and changes in activity levels, guides treatment planning for symptom stabilization. Recent studies demonstrate that talk therapy can effectively address the symptoms of bipolar disorder, helping with cognitive restructuring, family communication, and more.

Causes of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder - Woman Looking in Broken Mirror

Bipolar disorder typically runs in families, with 80% to 90% of people with BP (U.S.) having a relative with either bipolar disorder or depression. Environmental factors also play a part, and can impact brain structure in combination with genetic variables. Let’s dive deeper into how genetics and brain functioning contribute to the onset of bipolar disorder:


Family history significantly influences the genetic factors affecting bipolar disorder development. Identical twins studies, for example, demonstrate a higher concordance rate, highlighting a strong genetic component. This interplay between genetic and environmental factors can impact brain structure, leading to symptoms like psychosis.

  • Genetic factors contribute to bipolar disorder.

  • Family history is crucial in understanding genetic influences.

  • Identical twins studies show a high concordance rate.

  • A combination of genetics and environment affects brain structure.

Brain Functioning

Examining brain structure in individuals with bipolar disorder reveals variances in signaling pathways. Genes play a vital role in influencing brain function among those with bipolar disorder. Understanding how bipolar disorder impacts brain functioning aids in early diagnosis and management during adulthood. Disruptions in brain functioning due to bipolar disorder can result in mental health conditions such as psychosis and anxiety.

  • Variances exist in signaling pathways related to brain structure.

  • Genes significantly affect brain function in individuals with bipolar disorder.

  • Early diagnosis benefits from understanding the impact on brain functioning.

  • Disruptions can lead to mental health conditions like psychosis and anxiety.

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Effects of Bipolar Disorder

Individuals with bipolar disorder face stark challenges in daily life, along with occasional side effects from medication. The battle becomes all the more difficult if co-occurring mental health conditions are present. Here’s a rundown of how bipolar disorder can impact various parts of day-to-day life, from

Impact on Daily Life

Bipolar disorder can profoundly affect individuals' lives, disrupting daily functioning and relationships. Extreme mood swings characteristic of the bipolar spectrum can lead to challenges in maintaining stability. Living with bipolar disorder involves navigating through depressive episodes, manic episodes, and hypomanic episodes, each presenting unique hurdles. The fluctuating moods can make it difficult to sustain routines and interpersonal connections.

Side Effects of Medication

When managing bipolar symptoms, individuals often rely on medication. However, these medications may come with side effects that impact overall well-being. Balancing treatment benefits against potential drawbacks is crucial for optimal care. The use of medication to stabilize mood can sometimes lead to physical discomfort or cognitive challenges. It's essential for healthcare providers to work closely with patients to monitor and adjust treatment plans as needed.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Conditions

Bipolar disorder frequently co-occurs with other mental health conditions, adding layers of complexity to treatment. Individuals may also face anxiety disorders or exhibit psychotic features, necessitating comprehensive management strategies. Managing related disorders alongside bipolar disorder requires a multidisciplinary approach involving therapy, medication, and lifestyle modifications. Addressing the interconnected nature of these conditions is vital for holistic well-being.

Managing Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar Disorder - Woman Sitting in Blinds Shade

Managing bipolar disorder starts with seeking help from a mental health professional, or treatment center with mental health experts on staff. The use of medications, as well as addressing comorbid disorders, is also crucial. Here are some crucial considerations when managing the symptoms of bipolar disorder:

Seeking Professional Help

When experiencing bipolar symptoms, consulting a mental health professional or treatment center with therapists on staff is crucial for an accurate diagnosis. The bipolar spectrum encompasses a range of symptoms, from manic episodes to depressive episodes, each varying in intensity. By seeking professional guidance, individuals can receive tailored treatment plans that address their specific needs, including any psychotic symptoms or subthreshold symptoms that may be present.

Exploring Treatment Options

For effective management of bipolar disorder, exploring ongoing treatment options is key. Behavioral therapy and talk therapy are valuable tools in helping individuals navigate the extreme mood swings characteristic of the condition. These therapies provide coping strategies, emotional support, and practical skills to handle mood changes effectively. Incorporating these therapies into a comprehensive treatment plan can significantly improve the quality of life for those with bipolar disorder.

Importance of Medication

Proper treatment for bipolar disorder often involves the use of medications like valproate. These medications play a crucial role in stabilizing mood and preventing the onset of manic or depressive episodes.

By adhering to medication regimens prescribed by health care providers, individuals can better manage their symptoms and enhance their overall well-being. It’s important to communicate openly with healthcare professionals about any side effects or health conditions that may affect treatment.

Addressing Comorbid Disorders

Individuals with bipolar disorder may also experience comorbid mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders. Addressing these additional disorders is essential as they can exacerbate symptoms of bipolar disorder and impede effective treatment outcomes.

Seeking help for all co-occurring mental health issues ensures a holistic approach to wellness and improves the overall success of treatment interventions. By addressing both bipolar disorder and any accompanying mental health conditions simultaneously, individuals can experience better symptom management and enhanced quality of life.

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Closing Thoughts

Understanding bipolar disorder is crucial for recognizing its symptoms, seeking appropriate treatment, and managing its effects. By knowing the types, causes, and diagnostic methods related to this condition, you can take proactive steps in dealing with it effectively. Remember that early intervention and consistent therapy play a significant role in managing bipolar disorder.

If you or someone you know shows signs of bipolar disorder, seek professional help promptly. It's essential to remember that with the right support and treatment, individuals with bipolar disorder can lead fulfilling lives.

Manage the Ups & Downs of Bipolar Disorder With The Edge Treatment Center

Bipolar disorder is a complex condition with diverse symptoms, oscillating between high-energy mania and deep depression that can adversely impact your quality of life. At The Edge Treatment Center, we fully understand the effects bipolar disorder can have on your day-to-day, from challenges in maintaining steady employment to academic struggles and strained relationships. Just know that if recovery is in the cards, help is available — and you don’t have to fight this battle alone.

The Edge Treatment Center offers comprehensive therapies designed to provide long-term symptom management, empowering you to lead a balanced and fulfilling life. Explore our treatment options to discover how we can guide you through the heavy symptoms of bipolar disorder, and please reach out to us if you or a loved one require an ally on the path to healing.

Counseling for Bipolar Disorder

Treatment Modalities We Offer

The Edge Treatment Center offers proven methods to treat bipolar disorder and a range of other conditions, including:

Case Management

Our team guides clients to resources aiding recovery from drug addiction, assessing personal risks for a comprehensive treatment plan.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps patients change harmful thoughts and behaviors related to drug addiction, aiming to reduce relapse and promote a drug-free life.


Dialectical Behavior Therapy assists those struggling with emotional challenges from substance abuse, fostering emotional regulation and positive life changes.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing supports patients in processing trauma that may contribute to addiction, using eye movements to lessen distress.


Engaging in therapeutic activities, patients rediscover joy and appreciation for life, addressing trauma that fuels addictive habits.

Family Counseling

Family counseling bolsters familial ties and creates a supportive network that’s vital for enduring recovery and maintaining sobriety.

Group Therapy

Group therapy provides a shared space for mutual support, enhancing recovery through shared stories and collective strength.

Individual Therapy

Tailored sessions address each person’s unique challenges, aiding their path to a drug-free existence.


Medication-Assisted Treatment combines approved medications with therapy to effectively treat addiction, easing withdrawal and reducing the chances of relapse.


Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a non-invasive procedure, uses magnetic pulses to activate the brain, helping curb intense cravings.

Motivational Interviewing

Motivational interviewing encourages healthier lifestyle choices, such as overcoming cocaine addiction, by fostering a sense of achievement.

Trauma-Informed Care

Trauma-informed care recognizes trauma’s role in addiction, and is a proven method for guiding patients through treatment and understanding its effects on mental and emotional states.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.


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