Bipolar I disorder is a psychiatric condition that tends to run in families. It is categorized as a mood disorder marked by mood swings from extreme highs to extreme lows. During the lows an individual often experiences depression and sadness that is so extreme that they have trouble functioning (e.g. just getting out of bed becomes a challenge). Conversely, during the highs, an individual often feels intense feelings of mania. During this time, an individual may have an enormous amount of energy and may need very little sleep. Some people become very productive during these times and experience the mania as a feeling of euphoria, well-being, and optimism. However, if the mania becomes severe, they may begin to experience feelings of agitation, grandiosity, and be unable to focus or concentrate. Some people go on extreme shopping sprees during this time while others abuse alcohol or drugs. During a manic phase, a person may act out in embarrassing or self-destructive ways or may even lose touch with reality.
Some people cycle through the depression and mania over a long period of time. They may experience extended periods of depression followed by extended periods of mania. Others, on the other hand, may cycle through depression and mania very quickly. In some cases, a person may flip flop throughout the day between mania and depression.
Bipolar II is similar to Bipolar I disorder, with moods cycling between highs and lows over time. People with Bipolar II, swing from severe depression to a milder and briefer manic state called hypomania. Typically, the depressive episodes are more frequent and more intense than the manic episodes. The hypomania may manifest itself in disorganized racing thoughts, rapid or pressured speech, irritability, anxiety, decreased need for sleep, or hyperactivity.
Cyclothymia is a "Bipolar-like" illness that is characterized by mood swings between depression and hypomania. The lows and highs are not as severe as those experienced in Bipolar I disorder, but are still intense enough to create significant life impairment. During the depressive stage a person may experience difficulty making decisions, problems concentrating, poor memory recall, guilt, self-criticism, low self-esteem, pessimism, self-destructive thinking, continuous sadness, apathy, hopelessness, helplessness, irritability, quick temper, lack of motivation, social withdrawal, appetite change, lack of sexual desire, self-neglect, fatigue, and insomnia. While during the hypomanic stage a person may experience euphoria, extreme optimism, inflated self-esteem, poor judgment, rapid speech, racing thoughts, aggressive or hostile behavior, agitation, massively increased physical activity, risky behavior, spending sprees, increased drive to perform or achieve goals, increased sexual drive, decreased need for sleep, tendency to be easily distracted, and inability to concentrate. The mood swings may occur as often as every day or may be more prolonged in nature, lasting for several days, weeks, months, or even years.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 281-333-2284 (Clear Lake area) or 1-800-685-9796 (The Woodlands). You can also click here to schedule an assessment online. Additional assessment times are available by calling the numbers above.