Issues Treated in Therapy:
Bipolar, also known as manic-depression, is characterized as a combination of mood issues resulting in one or more episodes of abnormally increased energy levels, mood, and cognition, with or without one or more depressive episodes. Clinically, elevated moods are defined as mania, and in milder cases, hypomania. Persons experiencing manic or hypomanic episodes also commonly experience depressive episodes, or mixed episodes, where aspects of both mania and depression occur at the same time. Episodes may be separated by periods of “normal” mood but, in some individuals, mania and depression may rapidly alternate, which is defined as rapid cycling. Extreme manic episodes can sometimes lead to psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions. Bipolar has been subdivided into three main types: bipolar I, bipolar II and cyclothymia. There are other types of bipolar and are based on severity and nature of mood. This range is often described as the bipolar spectrum.
The manic phase may last anywhere from days to months and may include these symptoms:
**The above manic symptoms are seen in persons affected with bipolar I. In people with bipolar II, similar but less intense symptoms occur.
The depressive phase of both types of bipolar entails serious symptoms of major depression including:
Psychotherapy can help persons affected with bipolar by teaching them how to recognize triggers so they can avoid or understand them, decrease negatively expressed emotions, and practice coping skills that keep the disorder in remission. Other types of psychotherapy such as family-focused and cognitive behavioral therapies are effective in preventing relapses. Although the research clearly demonstrates that often times bipolar has an organic ideology, there is clear clinical evidence that bipolar can be treated through psychotherapy. For example, the grandiose, hypomanic ego state is often fueled by a profound sense of worthlessness, as if ambition and striving for greatness is compensating for low self esteem. Likewise, the depressive ego state can be seen as a protection, as giving up so to avoid failure, and other worthless feelings.
Medical treatment of bipolar ranges from mood stabilizing medication such as lithium (which helps to reduce suicidal behaviors), to anticonvulsant medication (which are typically more effective for rapid cycling), to antipsychotic and atypical antipsychotic medications (which are typically effective for manic episodes). Antidepressant use for bipolar is somewhat controversial and, if used alone, can produce adverse side effects. In most cases, antidepressants and mood stabilizers are prescribed together.
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Last updated: 05-14-2013